Having Fun with Statistics  

The intention of this MTi section is to explore the use of ICT in the teaching and learning of statistics. It is well established now that dynamic and interactive computer images can bring subjects to life in a way that was impossible to imagine before. The principle benefit is that lessons can now have variety. The same topic can be presented in the traditional way on the board, explored in a practical simulation, investigated using a spreadsheet or illustrated using dynamic software. There is also quite likely to be a useful JAVA applet or some interesting real data on it from the internet.

Furthermore students can now present their findings electronically, and teachers can store, share and continually refine their lesson plans. And if you add to all this the obvious benefit of the computer's ability to carry out calculations without effort, ICT methods are almost guaranteed to enhance the enjoyment of those teaching and studying this subject.


Great data from the web

The web is heaving with data, but it is sometimes difficult to find good data, and to extract it usefully. This page offers a selection of sites that have proved to be useful for the classroom, culled from the Statistics section of the TSM Resources site.


Putting EXCEL to work with data

Having found some good data, what to do with it? Excel has gone through several iterations since I find came across it in the mid-90s, but its statistical functions are much the same, and of course it gobbles up calculations with no fuss!


Putting AUTOGRAPH to work with data

Although Autograph is principally a coordinate geometry package, it does handle data in both single-variable mode and bi-variate. It can also tackle the tricky concepts of discrete and continuous variables, and also frequency and frequency density when the classes are unequal.


Having fun with Google Earth and the Wind Stats website

Why are airport runways built in a certain direction? Ideally planes like to take off and land into the wind. The Wind Stats website gives the prevailing wind as a circular histogram, and Google Earth can zoom in on a runway - did they get it right? We fly to the little coastal town of Mackay in Queensland to find out.

Douglas Butler

(*) Jing is a free on-screen recorder that uploads to the web or saves as a Flash file (.swf)