In this blog series, we're highlighting math modeling modules and articles that explore real-world issues that have broad implications.
Gerrymandering is the political manipulation of electoral district boundaries with the intent to create undue advantage for a party, group, or socioeconomic class within the constituency.
There have been many cases of gerrymandering that appeared in the Supreme Court over the years. At the center of the arguments are issues of fairness that can be approached mathematically. Often when trying to decide what is best or optimal or fair, the question: “Well, that might be fair, but compared to what?” arises.
When congressional districts are drawn, there are many possibilities! The existence of many options for how districts are drawn is in part why “obvious” instances of gerrymandering are possible.
With this article about mathematical compactness, or this article introducing some of the computational complexities of studying gerrymandering, you can provide students with a unique opportunity to practice critical thinking, math modeling, computational thinking, and further mathematical explorations.
The topic is a rich and generative one, completely apart from the initial thorny issue of deciding when a district map has gone beyond what is considered fair. See what types of questions and conversations develop!
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Here are some real-world math modeling modules, available for free, that we’ve featured lately:
Want even more free modules? Check out this list of 10 interesting math modules.