Math and Science In Your Life

Science, Math and Technology Resources at Empire State College

*Populations and Disease

Featured Courses: Populations and Disease

influenza symtomsWhat is a pandemic and why do some diseases spark fears of a widespread outbreak when others do not? And why do some diseases spread disproportionately among particular segments of a population during an outbreak? This course uses a public health methodology to break down the complex factors of this fascinating and timely topic. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Course Description:

Diseases can manifest differently in different segments of a population based on a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and/or social factors. In this course students use an epidemiological approach to interpret and understand how diseases manifest themselves and impact populations differently. The course is organized around a careful examination of six diseases that may (or may not) affect populations differently. Concepts of risk, exposure, prevention and treatment are explored and students learn analytic skills while becoming familiar with publicly available data on the select diseases. Students read, write and research together and individually to learn to think critically about published scientific findings.


Featured Activity: Visiting the Grocery Store

The purpose of this exercise is to increase your awareness of food availability, quality, and affordability in the context of the social environment provided by your local grocery store. You will examine how the presentation of food items effects the foods you buy and the way that you, your family and your community eats. Seen through the lens of the public health problems created by obesity on the one hand and malnutrition on the other, food availability and selection represent a significant public healthy issue.

The two documents linked below (PDF format) describe this exercise and they are intended to be printed so that you can take them with you to the grocery store during your investigation. The first page provides a grid containing 10 aisles, and subdivided into cells, that you will use to “map” where different types of food are found at your local grocery store. To complete the investigation you’ll fill in the grid using food type codes from the second page.

Grocery store grid (schematic layout): shoppingGrid.pdf

Food codes and comparisons: codes_tables.pdf

Page 1: Grocery Store Diagram

Your market may not look exactly like this, but that’s okay!

Most food stores have multiple aisles and displays all around the edge.

If you shop in a Wal-Mart type super store, just include the portion of the store in which the food is located. Use your judgment.

  • If your market has fewer than 10 aisles: cross out the extra aisles or mark that on your diagram.
  • If your market has more than 10 aisles: you may “double-up” actual aisles onto the diagram. For example, write food market aisle 1 & 2 contents onto the first aisle of the diagram. Just label the aisles on the diagram. Or, you can use 2 copies of page 1, crossing out the extra side perimeter region.

Page 2: Food Codes and Comparisons image - grocery store customers making food choices

  • You should use the food codes for filling out the Layout. The codes are meant for readability. The table has 5 blank spots, which you may use to add categories which are of interest to you.
  • There are 3 tables to be used for comparing food within a specific category. Take this page to the market with you, so that you may jot down information as you go through your shopping.
  • Diagram Submission Guidelines:

When you have completed the diagram, please submit it to me in one of two ways:

  • If you have access to a scanner, you may scan the document into your computer and attach it below along with your essay
  • If you do not have access to a scanner, you may mail it to me at the following mailing address: Amy Bloom Empire State College 111 West Avenue Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.Please make sure to put your name on the document!

Essay Submission Guidelines:

Along with the diagram, please compose a brief essay on your experience observing and diagramming your local grocery store.

Make sure to address the following key points:

  1. Identify and comment on where foods are located or grouped throughout the store
  2. Identify and comment on the cost and quality of different foods of the same type.
  3. Compare the cost and quality of any fruit available in your store. Find a fresh (organic and non-organic if available), frozen, canned, dried or any other form available in your store.Which is the most expensive?Least expensive?How does the cost relate to the overall quality of the fruit you selected?
  4. Compare the cost and quality of any vegetable available in your store. Find a fresh (organic and non-organic if available), frozen, canned, dried or any other form available in your store.Which is the most expensive?Least expensive?How does the cost relate to the overall quality of the fruit you selected?
  5. Take a portion of the money you spend on groceries for the week (e.g. $50 or whatever you are comfortable with) and see what it can buy you at your local grocery store – what are different ways to spend $50?Notice what, how much you purchase (or don’t)! Think about how big (or small) your family is. Does your family have health issues, allergies, etc? How does this come into play with what you can or cannot afford to purchase?
  6. Notice and record how long it takes you to find different items on your list.Why do you think certain foods are more easily identifiable in the store than others?