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10,000 Students Learning Statistics with Free Online Program

At least 10,104 students in American classrooms have been exposed to statistical problem-solving in a project introduced two years ago in this country to educate school-aged kids on statistical literacy. The American Statistical Association's (ASA) United States Census at School program, which originated in the United Kingdom in 2000, is a free, web-based project for students in grades four through 12.

The international program encourages teachers to guide their students through anonymous completion of an online census survey. Each class then analyzes its own census data and compares those results with results from random samples of participating students throughout the United States and the world.

The survey consists of 13 questions common to children in every participating country and a few questions specific to each country. Common questions relate to measurement, such as height, arm span, and foot length; travel time to school; reaction time to an online applet; time to finish an online memory test, and favorite sport or activity. The U.S. questionnaire asks about text messaging, hours of sleep, technology usage, future plans, allergies, and preferences in food, music, school subject, and ideal "super power."

Students then do statistical problem-solving by forming questions that can be answered with the data. They learn how to collect and select appropriate data, analyze it, and make conclusions in context.

To teach measurement, data analysis, and statistics, teachers can extract the Census at School data submitted by their students and a random sample of data from other students in the United States or any other participating country.

Along with statistics, participating students learn about the U.S. Census and how its results are used for planning in education, health, transportation, and other public services.

Census at School is a self-contained program with instruction, five instructional webinars, a PowerPoint presentation, lesson plans, and other resources, ready for immediate use in a classroom.

"Our statistical literacy project is an effective program to teach statistical concepts and principles to American students using their own real data and that of their national and international peers," said ASA Director of Education Rebecca Nichols. The program has grown by 2,000 students in the current school year, she added.

"We invite schools and teachers who are seeking a successful statistical literacy education project aligned with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics to implement the Census at School program in their classrooms," Nichols said.

More information about the program is available at: amstat.org/censusatschool.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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