Statistics Colloquium
January 10 (Fri) 11 a.m.
Alavi Commons Room, 6625 Everett Tower

STEMulating Careers Activity

Nichole Andrews and Bradford Dykes
Department of Statistics
Western Michigan University

(Following is a description of our proposed workshop for middle school students that will be a part of the MLK weekend.)

For our activity, we will be exploring regression analysis with data collected from the students. Our activity will involve throwing a paper airplane.

There will be four things at each students seat when they enter the room: a writing utensil, a piece of paper to make into a paper airplane, a slip of paper to record their data on, and a blank scatterplot (with the axes filled in). After welcoming the students, we will instruct them to make a paper airplane of their choosing. If students do not know how to, we will run through how to make a basic model. After the airplanes are complete is the fun part: throwing them!

Students will be asked to buddy up in order to save time recording data. Each student will bring up his/her slip of paper and paper airplane and make a line (with their partner). Nichole will be at the starting point to measure their height. The buddy will record this height. The student will then throw their paper airplane. Bradford will measure how far the airplane is thrown and, once again, the buddy will record this information. All of the students will do this and go back to their seat once done, leaving their slip of paper with their data with Nichole.

Nichole will then explain that we will be making a scatterplot and how this works. She will do a couple of points with the students on the board, and will then write the rest of the results on the board to have the students complete their scatterplot. While they are doing this, Bradford will be entering the data into Minitab.

Once all the students are done, Bradford will put up his scatterplot from Minitab and ask the students if theirs looks similar to this. We will then explain the concept of a line of best fit and both of us will draw our own line on the board. The students will then draw their own line on their scatterplot. After doing this, students can compare their line with the line generated in Minitab to see if it was close. We will discuss overall trends with them (as height increases, what happens to the distance the airplane traveled).

After discussing our data, we will then discuss real life applications with them of where we could use linear regression and provide them with an interesting example. We are hoping to have time at the end of this activity to answer questions.

Students learn better from hands-on activities so that is what we are trying to accomplish with our project. While it may be simple, it is also a bit of a competition (who can throw their paper airplane the furthest). We are hoping that this activity will generate interest among students in statistics.


Past colloquiums


Department of Statistics
3304 Everett Tower
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5152 USA
(269) 387-1420 | (269) 387-1419 Fax