Teaching teenagers statistics is such an awesome job. These 10 ways to easily engage with teenagers by Chris Hudson will not be unknown to any high school teacher and could pretty much serve the foundation of any lesson plan. I definitely have found that considering these kinds of ways to connect with teenagers in your teaching does make learning statistics (and mathematics) fun and effective. One task I tried this year uses at least four of these these ways: letting teens teach you or others, using pop culture, giving them a choice and setting them a challenge.

Memes are pretty funny and one of the awesome things that have come out of the internet. You can check out other examples of funny memes I’ve found in my pinterest folder 🙂 Turns out, teenagers are kind of into memes as well and there are all sorts of apps online they can use to create them. So why not use memes to learn about statistics? I thought it would be cool to take something like non-sampling errors and challenge students to create memes to demonstrate these (rather than giving them text-based examples).

After showing students my meme to demonstrate selection bias (and my dislike of beards) I challenged them to make their own more funnier versions. They could choose whatever non-sampling error they wanted and had to email them to me and I would choose a winner. I got some interesting memes – some definitely NSFW – but in the end I was really happy with what the students attempted and the level of engagement with the task.
I have also used pop culture – this time the Academy Awards – to challenge students to think about what is being communicated and how they could go about investigating this claim. In Julianne Moore’s Academy Award acceptance speech she repeats a claim that she read in an article that winning an Oscar could lead to living five years longer. When I heard her say this during the ceremony, I remember thinking “What? Where did she get that from?” and then pulling out my laptop to do a search for this article. We want our students to also be ready to question claims made by others and know how to evaluate these claims. A good follow up article to read regarding this claim can be found here.

This post is based on a plenary I did for the Christchurch Mathematical Association (CMA) Statistics Day in November 2015 where I presented 10 ways to embrace the awesomeness that is our statistics curriculum. You can find all the posts related to this plenary in one place here as they are written.