Data Analysis, Statistics and Probability Summary

Monday - Friday, July 12-16, 2004

Monday: Before beginning, participants were asked to check their contact information and give their housing location and a phone number were they could be reached while in Park City. We shared how much exposure we had to Fathom before we came to PCMI and whether or not we had access to a laptop computer while here. It appeared that we may not require the computer lab for future working group sessions as most had laptop computers and some had wireless capability. Carol and Beverly talked about using Fathom with their students. We were going to the lab to walk through some of the tutorials. For one of the activities, we would be working on, it was necessary to collect data for our height and wrist circumference. Some used bendable rulers, while others used a piece of string to measure the wrist circumference. This was recorded on chart paper and taken to the computer lab. While working on the first activity, some noticed that if you entered numbers as mixed fractions the scale on the graph looked strange. This difficulty was rectified when the mixed fraction was changed to a decimal. The problem was caused because Fathom looks at data in two ways -- categorical and numeric. The use of mixed fractions tricked Fathom into thinking that the data was categorical, causing it to place the numbers in order of appearance instead in the case table instead of numeric order. We worked at our own pace while in the lab.

Tuesday: Before continuing with the Fathom tutorials, there was a group discussion. The purpose of the program committee was shared with the group. Since we are one of the groups without a third year participant, it would be necessary for one of us to volunteer for the committee. Judy Carlin will be our rep. Thanks to those who volunteered. We introduce ourselves by stating where we were from, what we taught and how we saw Fathom fitting in to those classes. Even the supervisors felt they could use Fathom in their work. We continued working on the tutorials. We also looked at some activities, at the end of the workshop guide, that are from Data in Depth. The area and perimeter activity gave us an opportunity to find curves of best fit for the boundary of the region graphed.

Thursday: After some technical difficulties with the projection unit, we had a demonstration of how to import data from the web, using the “drag and drop” technique as well as importing from URL. The data was taken from the Data and Story Library, which was accessed from the Key Curriculum website at keypress.com. Importing data from Excel was also demonstrated. We looked at the Bias Rectangle activity that the summer of 2002 data group compiled. As usual our mean was above the actual mean. Carol and Alice shared with the group that they have each experienced one case where the class was actually below the mean. Carol made sure that everyone had worked with sliders. Homework for the day was to think about activities we would like to work on for our final product.

Friday: We brainstormed possible final product ideas along with an intended target audience. Possible topics include:

  • scatterplots using Olympic data or pencil lengths &mass for Algebra I (Ginny, Jeff, Amanda, Lars)
  • creating a presentation on the use of Fathom using U.S. Census for teachers (Judy R)
  • magnetic force and plant growth for A.P Statistics or Algebra I
  • polls and polling, collect samples , randomize etc. (Warren, Judy C, Alice)
  • web feeds – take information & put in Fathom
  • proportions of body parts – how this changes with age
  • have students do a research project with data they have found. (Amanda)

After having looked at all the ideas, we decided which topics we would focus on as well as who might like to work on that idea. Before we left for the lab, Carol reminded us to look at work from previous summers. We had difficulty accessing the Fathom files from the summer of 2003. Suzanne was able to fix this by the end of the working group time. Most of us were looking for possible data sets that could be used, while the supervisors worked on importing data from Excel and the web. One of the supervisors also looked at TinkerPlots, a data program for middle school, which should be available by September 2004.

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IAS/Park City Mathematics Institute is an outreach program of the School of Mathematics
at the Institute for Advanced Study, Einstein Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540

Send questions or comments to: Suzanne Alejandre and Jim King

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0314808.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.