Statistics Summer Institute Day 2 (The day I realized my AP Stat students are amazing!)

For all of the stress my AP Statistics students go through and put me through, I realized today that they truly are an amazing group.

Day 2 of the institute had the participants looking at types of statistical data; they dealt with statistical questions, sampling methods, and types of variables. Today, my presentation focused on they different types of variables: categorical vs quantitative.

I started the participants off with the first thing my AP Statistics students do on the first day of school. They have to answer the following questions:

1) How many cats does Mr. Cloud have?
2) What is your favorite color?
3) How many pockets are there on your clothes?
4) How many stars are there on the American flag?
5) What is your favorite pizza topping?
6) How long can you hold your breath?

The answers are interesting and trivial at the same time. After 2 minutes trying to answer the questions, the participants spent a few minutes sorting the questions in meaningful ways. Once the participants decided that Questions #2 and #5 were special because they have categorical (non-measureable numerical) responses, we spent the next two hours discussing what makes a variable categorical and the best way to summarize and represent data that’s categorical (bar graph, pie chart, frequency tables, etc.). It was a relatively uneventful two hours. There was good discussion and I emphasized when and where the standards for mathematical practice were used.

The most interesting part of the day occurred during a break. Some of the participants were discussing how they were frustrated with the amount of statistics we have done and plan on doing. They weren’t complaining, but feeling overwhelmed with the amount of material we have covered and will cover. Upon reflection, the pace and depth of the material we are working with is slower and less than (in most cases) than what we do in AP Statistics. I got a lot of perspective today on the struggles that my own students go though in AP Statistics having less statistical experience than these participants. The amount of knowledge my own students gain is pretty astonishing. I’ll definitely have a different perspective on their accomplishments from now on!

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