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Activity Number: 610
Type: Contributed
Date/Time: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 : 2:00 PM to 3:50 PM
Sponsor: Section on Statistical Education
Abstract - #307538
Title: Using Statistics to Know and Nurture Our Planet
Author(s): Nancy Pfenning*+
Companies: Univ of Pittsburgh
Keywords: explorers ; planet ; applications ; variable types

An anthropologist studies chimpanzees in Africa; an archaeologist investigates Mayan human sacrifices; a historian relates lichen growth with the age of a castle in Liechtenstein; a geneticist links modern DNA with the exploits of Genghis Khan. What do these researchers have in common? Their reliance on statistical methods. This presentation considers several examples of how researchers use statistics to understand and protect our planet. Taking National Geographic's website as a starting point, I found journal articles about the work of dozens of explorers around the world. The majority of these explorers depend on statistical methods to get results; which method to employ depends on what type of variables are involved. By incorporating such examples and exercises into our course curriculum, we can impress on students that when they solve statistics problems they must go through the same process as the explorers do: figure out what types of variables are involved, so they'll know which statistical tools are appropriate. At the same time, we impress on students how fascinating statistical applications can be, and how vital they are for us and for all inhabitants of planet Earth.

Authors who are presenting talks have a * after their name.

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