Median Definition: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jeremy Cook

I have been teaching elementary school for 16 years. I have extensive experience in lesson and curriculum development and educational technology.

You collect, interpret, and use all types of data everyday and you probably don't even realize you are doing it. With a data set of numbers, one type of calculation is the median. In this lesson, we will look at the median, which gives you a unique look at data and is so easy to determine.

What's That in the Middle of the Road?

Have you ever been riding along in the car and spotted your favorite fast food joint on the other side of the road, but you can't get there because there's a barrier in the middle of the road? Well, that's the median, kids, and it sits right in the middle, preventing you from getting that shake and fries. Don't you just love dipping fries in the shake?

What is the Median?

Before we discuss median, we first need to talk about a data set. A data set is just a series of numbers. Depending on what you are collecting, the numbers could be anything from the salaries of your favorite athletes to how much money each of your friends makes on their allowance. The sets could be big or small.

If you take the numbers in any data set and arrange them from smallest to largest, the number that falls directly in the middle is the median. So, just like the median of the road is in the middle of the road, the median of a set of data is the middle number of the data set - median......middle. Go ahead and tell dad he's looking a little plump in the median and see what happens.


Finding the Median

OK. Let's pretend that you found out how much each of your nine friends make for an allowance each week and you wrote them down. You want an allowance of your own and want to tell your mom about how much your friends make. Here's what you have: 3, 5, 10, 7, 2, 5, 4, 25, 10.

To get the median, you first need to order the data from least to greatest. Or greatest to least for you rebels. Got that done? Good. Now count the data points. I know I said we have nine, but do it again for laughs. Once you've got them ordered, finding the median is a cinch. Just find the exact middle number. For data sets with an odd amount of numbers, it's easy. For a data set with an even amount of numbers, you just take the two middle numbers and average them. To find the average, you add the two numbers together and divide by 2. That's the median.

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