More ‘Hands-on’ materials to inspire students with statistics

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The RSS has launched four new activities designed to engage with students and young people at careers fairs, at festivals and in schools. The new ‘Hands-on’ resources consist of short, practical activities for face-to-face interactions, which can be extended for use in school workshops.

The ‘Hands-on’ activities, available to download at, were launched at the RSS Conference 2018, a year after the first four were launched at the 2017 Conference.

All of the activities have been developed by Laura Bonnett and Simon White, members of the RSS Education and Statistical Literacy Committee, and were tested by them and other volunteers at school careers fairs and festivals. As well as the instruction sheet and any relevant printed materials, there’s a video for each demonstrating their use.

The new activities are:

  • Capture Recapture: Illustrates estimating the size of a population. It explores a core idea of statistical inference and is very interactive.
  • How many penguins?: Introduces the concepts of populations and samples. Using information obtained from a sample of ‘local’ penguins, we infer how many penguins live in a colony in Antarctica.
  • Radiotherapy: Introduces the idea of a simulation study to investigate the impact of different doses of radiation when targeting tumour cells. It is highly interactive and requires minimal resources.
  • Sociable cards: This activity uses a ‘magic trick’ to demonstrate that statistical thinking can help to identify patterns in situations which may otherwise be considered unpredictable. It is highly interactive and requires minimal resources.

Both sets of Hands-on activities are now available on the RSS website, alongside guidance on making connections with local schools.

‘Talking with people who work with data is a powerful way of helping students to be aware of how statistics are used in employment and the wider world,’ said Scott Keir, RSS head of education and statistical literacy. ‘We had great feedback from our members on the first set of resources, and I’m grateful to Laura and Simon, and everyone involved at the University of Liverpool and University of Cambridge, for continuing this project with four more, which will help kick-start conversations at fairs and festivals.’

Laura and Simon are already working on a third set of four hands-on statistics resources, for launch at the 2019 RSS Conference.

Watch the demonstrations on our YouTube channel or see below: 


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