Over the past few months, I have profiled several key facets of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools (SIS) program through a podcast and a first-hand account of a career day visit in Prince George’s County, Md.
SIS prides itself on being an effective and free resource for teaching and learning to use real-life Census Bureau data and many of us at the Census Bureau have continued to stay actively involved in the program through school visits and other modes of outreach.
The SIS program is broken out into five core subjects: math, geography, sociology, English and history. Each of these subjects are clearly designated for K-12 grade-level appropriateness.
Remember that SIS is a free and easy-to-use resource that many educators may not know is available to them.
In addition to the five core subjects, SIS also includes a variety of resources such as Fun Facts and 5 Minute Challenge activities. State Facts for Students is an interactive resource that allows students to learn key kid-friendly demographics for their home state and find similarities and differences between their state and other U.S. states.
For example, if I were to select “Maryland” under the interactive tool, I would immediately be brought to a page that has relevant and current statistics on Maryland’s population, geography and business data. Using this resource, I could quickly discover that Maryland has 137 toy stores as of 2016. Additionally, I would find 13 amusement parks in the state.
The data are presented in a way that will make sense to students. They are displayed in plain language and easy-to-understand terms.
Students may also be fascinated with some other facts about each state in the “I Never Knew That!” section of the page that focuses on what makes that state unique.
For example, did you know that Maryland is also known as “The Old Line State?”
Additionally, the SIS program has several interactive activities that guide students through State Facts including a scavenger hunt called “Where is Gina the Geographer?”
At my most recent visit to Feynman School in Potomac, Md., I implemented a math lesson on probability for a small, fifth grade classroom.
In this lesson, I honed in on the concept of probability using a six-sided die to teach about the chances of rolling a certain number.
The fifth graders were excited to use this real-life and interactive material to conduct their experiment and determine if their original hypotheses were accurate.
In addition to the lesson on probability, I used several other SIS materials that I felt would pique the students’ interest in census data.
I provided an infographic on toy manufacturers in the United States to show not only the importance of census data but also how the data can be relevant to them.
JP Gayathri, the students’ teacher at Feynman School, wrote: “Our kids really enjoyed the class on probability and learning using math experiments with dice.”
It’s one of many positive testimonials from teachers who have used SIS. See here how teachers can use these resources.
There are more outreach opportunities on the main Statistics in Schools website.
Remember that SIS is a free and easy-to-use resource that many educators may not know is available to them. By using these online lessons, you can find new and interesting ways to keep your students engaged using real life data, regardless of the age of the students you teach.
Adam Grundy is a supervisory statistician in the Census Bureau's International Trade Management Division.
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