Encouraging school statistics through poster competition

Published 21 December 2008

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The University  of New England is encouraging the study of statistics in schools through its involvement in organising and judging the Australian Statistics Poster Competition.

This national competition, coordinated by the Australian Mathematics Trust (AMT), aims to increase secondary students’ awareness of the importance of statistics in society, and to improve their statistical skills. Working in teams of two or three, students tackle a statistical problem – presenting their methods of data collection, and the results of analysing the data, in a clearly understandable and attractively designed poster.

The national winner this year was a poster titled “Eye Spy”, analysing age differences in the way people see the “ambiguous image” kind of optical illusion.

“Statistics is critical to a number of school subjects,” said one of the NSW coordinators of the competition, Dr Chris Reading from UNE’s School  of Education. “Although the basics of statistics are taught in NSW high schools, this is insufficient to enable the students to really think statistically. Giving them the opportunity to develop a poster helps them to do this.”

Dr Reading (pictured here) and the other NSW coordinator, Jackie Reid from UNE’s School of Science and Technology, were among the judges of the NSW entries in this year’s competition (as they were in the two previous years). They are also involved in judging on the national level. In commenting on this year’s entries Dr Reading said the overall presentation of the posters was good (while leaving scope for even more creativity), and the graphical representations of the data analysis were accurate. “One area for improvement next year would be in the descriptions of methods used for collecting the data,” she added.

The winning poster nationally – “Eye Spy” – was from NSW. Its compilers – Andrew Loizou, Marcus Jones and Hayden Dimitrouski – are in Year 9 at Sylvania  High School. The winning poster within NSW was also compiled by Year 9 students from Sylvania High: Alana Gazy and Kayla Madonis. Their poster, titled “Do different conditions affect the browning of cut fruits?”, analyses rates of browning under a range of conditions including refrigeration and covering with lemon juice.

Four other NSW posters were highly commended, including one from New England Girls’ School in Armidale.

One of the aims of the AMT in coordinating the competition is to increase students’ awareness of career options offered by statistics.

THE PHOTOGRAPH of Dr Chris Reading displayed here expands to show her and Jackie Reid with the winning poster.