Anything measurable is fodder for a statistical analysis project. Providing your students with the factors that should be included and asking them to come up with their own project may prove to be the most effective. Ask them to state their subject, method of collecting data and a visual, such as a graph that illustrates the results of their study.
Who will you observe for your project? Will it be in a controlled setting? For example, you can observe 20 preschool children, 10 boys and 10 girls, playing with blocks. Or, will it be in an uncontrolled, random setting, such as a busy mall, watching to see how often someone holds a door open for others?
Once you have determined what your subject will be and whether or not it is controlled, define factors that separate behavior. Using the example of observing preschool children playing with blocks, your defining factors could be to have four sets of four different colors of blocks that are the same shape.
Defining a Pattern
What patterns are you seeing? For example, in the example of the 10 boys playing with blocks, four of them choose to build with blue, three with red and three with green. Create a bar graph that identifies boys using the blocks by color. The graph would conclude that blue was the most popular color with the boys. The bar graph should also include the results of the girls playing with blocks.
Other Ideas for Projects
Observe people walking in and out of a mall. How often does someone hold the door open for another person? Track whether the person holding the door open is male or female.
Have a group of students set up a card house. What is the average amount of cards used to build a card house before it falls?
Have a female subject walk through a busy area carrying books and drop them to see if anyone stops to help. Record whether the person who helps is male or female. Repeat the study having a male subject dropping the books.
I Do, I Understand
Gary Smith, a statistics professor from Pomona College puts it well: "A Chinese proverb is: 'I hear, I forget. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.' If so, maybe a good way to learn statistics is by doing statistics."
- statistics image by anna karwowska from Fotolia.com