The University of Liverpool was the host of the inaugural Early Career Researchers Conference 2019 bringing together early career researchers in Data Science, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) were sponsors of the conference, and three Liverpool based volunteers who are active volunteers with the RSS, as well as statistical and STEM ambassadors coordinated a special afternoon showcasing the RSS and ‘Hands on Statistics’ outreach activities.
Sarah Nevitt (RSS Medical Section and Young Statisticians Section (YSS)) firstly introduced the ‘Who, What, When, Where and Why?’ of the RSS; including the work of the RSS promoting the importance of data and statistics for the public good, getting involved with the RSS by becoming a member, attending section and local group events, the professional accreditations and training courses offered by the RSS as well as volunteering opportunities. Especially relevant for this conference of Early Career researchers in Data Science, Sarah also highlighted the work of the YSS including careers events, young statistician conferences, the RSS Statistical Excellence Award for Early Career Writing and how to keep in touch with YSS, especially on social media.
Laura Bonnett (RSS Education and Statistical Literacy committee and Teaching Statistics Special Interest Group), then lead an interactive afternoon of ‘Hands on Statistics’ demonstrating a range of different activities developed by the RSS Education and Statistical Literacy committee. These activities demonstrate a range of statistical concepts including probability, distributions, populations, sampling, means, standard errors, confidence intervals, as well as some more complex concepts such as simulation studies, random walks, Kruskals counts, Pollard’s Kangaroo and Capture-Recapture in a fun and interactive way using playing cards, dice, meerkats, penguins, ducks and Usain Bolt.
The conference attendees then had a chance to develop and demonstrate some ‘Hands on Statistics activities’ of their own using our bank of statistical resources. Some excellent animal themed activities were developed including ‘Elephant Scales’ demonstrating Bayesian methods, distributions and iteration using stuffed elephants and ‘Count the poo, find the wombat’s blue,’ building on the concepts of populations and samples and also demonstrating the importance of sample size. The winning ‘Hands on Statistics activity’ of the afternoon was ‘Can you guess the colour?’, a demonstration and clear explanation of Bayesian methods and probability with playing cards. We shall certainly be taking some of these excellent ideas with us to careers fairs in the future!
Maria Sudell (RSS Merseyside Local Group) rounded up a great afternoon by sharing her experiences of being a STEM ambassador for the last four years, as well as some great tips for running outreach activities and details of how to sign up as a STEM ambassador.
We hope to have inspired many new RSS members and STEM ambassadors to try out some of our ‘Hands on Statistics’ activities and provided the encouragement to develop some outreach activities of their own!