Data Can Be Sweet

Stepping into the class, you see the walls covered in white pages with charts and titles around the room with dots plotted from all the previous discussions and work on each topic. Does Beyonce write her own songs? Can Joy smell Parkinson’s? How much do fans love Justin Timberlake? And the question of the day: Does caffeine cause an increase in pulse rates?

Displaying and Describing Data is the perfect title for this class. “The main goal is to help students be better consumers of data,” said Renee Watkins, teacher for the class. A retired statistics teacher, Renee Watkins is introducing students to useful methods of gathering data through simple research techniques and giving them tools to question findings and better understand data.

After gathering up data on their pulses with or without having caffeine, students charted their results on the white paper. “We are trying to decide if we have statistically significant results,” said Watkins.

When asked if they thought caffeine caused an increase in pulse rates, Liza K. said there were too many confounding variables to confirm it. After more discussion between classmates and Ms. Watkins, they logically were in agreement that caffeine does not appear to increase pulse rates for students in this class.

Class ended with looking at what proportion of time a Hershey’s kiss lands on its bottom when tossed from the top of their notebooks to the table. Tomorrow they will look at confidence intervals involving more candy. Learning statistics has been sweet!

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