## Age is just a number

Today I demonstrated some in-class interactive activities that I had developed for my super large intro statistics lectures at a teaching and learning symposium. I’ve shared a summary of the activities and the data below.

## Quick summary of the activity

### Some other ideas

If you haven’t already, check out learning.statistics-is-awesome.org/different_strokes/, where you can sample some cat (and other) drawings and learn more about how people draw in the Google game Quick, Draw!

I also get students to draw things in class and use their drawings as data. Below are all the drawings of cats made from the demonstration today, and also from the awesome teachers who helped me out last night. If you click/touch and hold a drawing you will be able to drag it around. How many different ways can you sort the drawings into groups?

## It’s raining cats and dogs (hopefully)

In April 2017, I presented an ASA K-12 statistics education webinar: Statistical reasoning with data cards (webinar). Towards the end of the webinar, I encouraged teachers to get students to make their own data cards about their cats. A few days later, I then thought that this could be something to get NZ teachers and students involved with. Imagine a huge collection of real data cards about dogs and cats? Real data that comes from NZ teachers and students? Like Census At School but for pets 🙂 I persuaded a few of my teacher friends to create data cards for their pets (dogs or cats) and to get their students involved, to see whether this project could work. Below is a small selection of the data cards that were initially created (beware of potential cuteness overload!)

The project then expanded to include more teachers and students across NZ, and even the US, and I’ve now decided to keep the data card generator (and collection) page open so that the set of data cards can grow over time. Please use the steps below to get students creating and sharing data cards about their pets.

Creating and sharing data cards about dogs and cats

Inevitably, there will be submissions made that are “fake”, silly or offensive (see below).

Data cards submitted to the project won’t automatically be added to any public sets of data cards, and will be checked first. Just like with any surveying process that is based on self-selection, is internet based and relies on humans to give honest and accurate answers, there is the potential for non-sampling errors. To help reduce the quantify of “fake” data cards, if you are keen to have your students involved with this project it would be great if you could do the following:

1. Talk to your students about the project and explain that the data cards will be shared with other students. They will be sharing information about their pet and need to be OK with this (and don’t have to!). The data will be displayed with a picture of their pet, so participation is not strictly anonymous. All of this is important to discuss with students as we need to educate students about data privacy 🙂

2. When students submit their data, they are given the finished data card which they can save. Set up a system where students need to share the data card they have created with you e.g. by saving into a shared Google drive or Dropbox, or by emailing the data card to you. The advantage for you of setting up this system is that you get your class/school set of data cards to use however you want. The advantage for me is that this level of “watching” might discourage silly data cards being created.

Pet data cards

The data collection period for this set of data cards was 1 May 17 to 19 May 17.

The diagram below shows the data included on each data card:

Additional data that could be used from each data card includes:

• Whether the pet photo was taken inside or outside
• Whether the pet photo is rotated (and the angle of rotation)
• The number of letters in the pet name
• The number of syllables in the pet name

## A stats cat in a square?

On Twitter a couple of days ago, I saw a tweet suggesting that if you mark out a square on your floor, your cat will sit in it.

Since I happen to have a floor, a cat, and tape I thought I’d give it a go. You can see the result at the top of this post 🙂 Amazing right?

Well, no, not really. I marked out the square two days ago, and our cat Elliot only sat in the square today.

Given that:

• our cat often sits on the floor
• our cat often sits on different parts of said floor
• that we have a limited amount of floor
• I marked out the square in an area that he likes to sit
• that we were paying attention to where on the floor our cat sat

… and a whole lot of other conditions, it actually isn’t as amazing as Twitter thinks. Also, my hunch is that people who do witness their cat sitting the square post this on Twitter more often than those who give up waiting for the cat to sit in the square.

Below is a little simulation based on our floor size and the square size we used, taking into account our cat’s disposition for lying down in places. It’s just a bit of fun, but the point is that with random moving and stopping within a fixed area, if you watch long enough the cat will sit in the square 🙂

PS The cat image is by Lucie Parker. And yes, the cat only has to partially in the square when it stops but I figured that was close enough 🙂

## Writing report comments ….. using a little bit of statistics :-)

This is a post about my new tool to help write report comments for statistics (and mathematics) students. You can find it under the new “Tools” menu, but you might want to read the stuff below first to find out how it works 🙂

A very brief history of my approach to writing report comments….

A good friend of mine (also a teacher) once commented that I spent more time thinking and creating tools to write report comments than the actual time it would take to just write them by hand. I did write my report comments “by hand” for the first couple of years of teaching, but then I realised that, while every student is different, I wasn’t necessarily using completely different comments about each student. There was a structure to what I was writing and some key things I was commenting on regarding what the student was doing (or not doing) in terms of their learning. So a started developing tools to help me (and others) write report comments.

Developing the new reporting writing tool…

My goal with this new version of the report writing tool was to make the process more natural and for comments to be “suggested” in the writing process (rather than using drop-down boxes), similar to how Google suggests search terms for you as you type. For this suggestion process to work well, I had to analyse all the comments I had used before to identify words that were useful at identifying comments and words that were not. For example, I found that most words less than four letters long were not that useful at selecting useful comments, and words like “have”, “take” etc. also were not useful at presenting reasonable options for comments. I ran some of my previously written comments through some text analysis tools to check out aspects such as readability and word length.

Want to see it in action?

I’ve made this video to explain how to use the tool because I think it’s easier this way 🙂

Or just try it out for yourself here