Stats with Cats (and other animals)!

I wrote a guest post earlier this week for Allan Rossman’s excellent blog Ask Good Questions. If you aren’t already subscribed to Allan’s blog you should be! He spent a year writing a new post every week, so there are so many very good advice and ideas for teaching statistics on his blog. Allan’s work with Beth Chance on teaching simulation-based inference has influenced a lot of what we teach in New Zealand, so you’ll also recognise some of the activities (and look for the shout out to New Zealand!)

The post I wrote features lots of photos of cats but also, and more importantly, gives you an idea of the kinds of activities I’ve been using to introduce statistics and data science students to coding. In the post, I also talk about the Popularity contest app that allows you to sample photos from Pixabay.

https://askgoodquestions.blog/2020/08/17/59-popularity-contest/

If cats aren’t your thing, then the guest post the week before features ladybugs and lizards and was written by none other than Christine Franklin – another amazing US-based statistics educator and researcher who fortunately loves visiting us here in New Zealand whenever she can!

https://askgoodquestions.blog/2020/08/10/58-lizards-and-ladybugs-illustrating-the-role-of-questioning/

And just by total coincidence, but if counting spots is your thing then check out this new app I developed called 101 dalmatians!

https://learning.statistics-is-awesome.org/dalmatians/

Catch a random sample of dogs and use the sample to estimate the mean number of spots per dog for the small population of 101 dalmatians. For a bit of context, you could re-watch some of the original version of the movie first!

While we’re talking about dogs, awesome educator Julia Crawford (Cognition Education) shared this video on the Stats teachers NZ Facebook page as a good discussion starter for experiments.

I don’t have a dog, so have tried out experiments with my cat Elliot. The video below was made for my students when we first went into lockdown (I also tried the cat and square challenge a few years ago). I’ve also added snippets from the videos the super awesome Dr Michelle Dalyrymple and Emma Lehrke sent me of their dogs more successfully engaging with the activity!

Of course, don’t forget you can also contribute to the It’s raining cats and dogs (hopefully) project, by making a data card about each of your dogs or cats. I’m going to create the next set of cards soon, and include a digital platform to work with the cards (similar to Stickland).

And, 😺🐶😺🐶, how could we forget about emoji? Pip Arnold has been making and sharing a bunch of videos and resources for using CODAP with younger statistic students. Did you know you can use emoji in sampler plugin for CODAP? Just copy them from a web age and paste them into tool. When you use the emojis as values in formulae, just make sure to put “” quotes around them. You see emoji in action below, and check out how this all was set up in CODAP here.

https://codap.concord.org/app/static/dg/en/cert/index.html#shared=https%3A%2F%2Fcfm-shared.concord.org%2FVw54ngaPhEKWL6wyRSyP%2Ffile.json

For more modelling activities, this time using TinkerPlots, check out Anne Patel‘s presentation for the Auckland Mathematical Association. Her presentation covers a wide variety of important teaching ideas and resources, with lots of practical advice based on her nearly-finished PhD research. Sure, there’s nothing about cats or dogs but she does talk about Census At School, which doesn’t yet ask questions about dogs and cats but maybe could!


Don’t forget, if you’ve got a question about teaching statistics, then feel free to submit this question anonymously using the form below. Who knows? Your question might even inspire a new post 🙂