The American Statistical Association’s (ASA) U.S. Census at School program, an international classroom project that engages primary and secondary school students in statistical problemsolving, has recorded its milestone 10,000th student, announces ASA Director of Education Rebecca Nichols.
The program, launched in 2000 in the United Kingdom by the Royal Statistical Society (RSS), promotes statistical literacy among schoolchildren. It is now international, with programs actively operating in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. In addition, statistics education leaders in other countries are exploring the possibility of offering the Census at School program to their country’s students.
The ASA launched the U.S. version of the program in 2010 in conjunction with that year’s decennial count of the country’s population by the U.S. Census Bureau.
“Reaching 10,000 students is very gratifying, especially considering this milestone was achieved in a relatively short period—in only two years,” says Nichols. “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.”
In just two years, the U.S. Census at School program has reached 10,104 students in 409 schools across the country. A total of 466 teachers in 42 states and the District of Columbia are teaching statistical problemsolving to students using the program. Since the beginning of the current school year, the program has grown by nearly 2,000 students, explains Nichols.
“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,” says Nichols.
Census at School is a free, web-based project that engages students in grades four through 12 in statistical problemsolving using their own data. Under the direction of his or her teacher, each student in a class anonymously completes an online survey. Together, the students analyze their class census data and compare those results with results from random samples of participating students throughout the United States and the world.
The online survey consists of 13 questions common to children in every participating country and a few questions specific to children in each country. The common questions are related to measurement—length (height, arm span, foot length), travel time to school, reaction time to an online applet, time to complete an online memory test—and category—favorite sport or activity. The U.S. questionnaire has additional questions about text messaging, hours of sleep, technology usage, future plans, allergies and preferences (i.e., foods, music, school subject, their ideal super power). All questions lead to a variety of categorical and quantitative responses.
Students then engage in statistical problemsolving by formulating questions that can be answered with the data, collecting and selecting the appropriate data, analyzing the data and making appropriate 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 U.S. or any participating country.
Census at School also helps raise awareness of civic duty among students. They learn about the importance of the U.S. Census conducted every 10 years to federal and state government planning for education, health, transportation and other essential public services.
The Census at School program is self-contained and includes detailed instructions, five instructional webinars, a PowerPoint presentation, lesson plans and other resources. Teachers comfortable with statistical concepts, problemsolving and data analysis can immediately begin using the program in their classes.
To learn how to implement a Census at School program in your school, go to www.amstat.org/censusatschool.
About the American Statistical Association
Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, the American Statistical Association is the world’s largest community of statisticians and the second-oldest continuously operating professional society in the United States. For more than 170 years, the ASA has supported excellence in the development, application and dissemination of statistical science through meetings, publications, membership services, education, accreditation and advocacy. Its members serve in industry, government and academia in more than 90 countries, advancing research and promoting sound statistical practice to inform public policy and improve human welfare. For additional information about the American Statistical Association, please visit the ASA website at www.amstat.org or call (703) 684-1221.