STATCOM P-12 Outreach Demonstrated Math and Statistics Concepts to Third Graders

June,  2007

Almost every week since October 2006, the STATCOM P-12 Outreach team visited Frontier Elementary in Brookston, IN for an hour to work with seven mathematically gifted third graders. "We had a great time showing the kids that math and statistics involve more than just doing worksheets," said Ellen Gundlach, STATCOM P-12 Outreach faculty advisor. "The kids learned basic probability, expected values, scientific notation, trigonometry, positive and negative number math on the stairs, game theory, and genetics, among other topics." Below is a list of some of the activities that STATCOM P-12 Outreach brought to the students this past year:

  • Jesse Cunningham, Statistics Ph.D. student, brought them "Deal or No Deal," sampling with Waldo, and dice games.
  • Gayla Olbricht and Alex Lipka, Statistics Ph.D. students, presented a genetics lesson that introduced the kids to how DNA works.
  • Gayla Olbricht also worked with the kids to help the FBI track down some "bad guys" using the scales on maps. The kids then used scales to design treasure maps for each other too.
  • One week, Alex Lipka pretended to be a CIA agent looking for a missing microchip dropped by a spy plane--the kids needed homemade astrolabes to do some trigonometry to help the CIA figure out that the microchip was probably on top of the flagpole.
  • Kelvin Ma, Statistics Ph.D. student, taught them about the planets, orders of magnitude, and units of measure.
  • Kitaka Donovan, a graduating agricultural economics senior enrolled in STAT 301 in spring 2007, taught the kids about how the commodities market works using real corn kernels and soybeans, and Monopoly money.
  • Kendra McPheeters, an English education freshman doing an honors project in STAT 301, taught the kids about the probabilities involved in genetics by using Punnett squares.
  • Ellen Gundlach attended all the sessions and led lessons in probability and game theory. "The life-sized Theseus and the Minotaur game with a big masking tape labyrinth on the floor was an especially big hit", said Gundlach. To get an idea of the game, visit the website here.

"We're planning more fun next year," said Gundlach. If you are interested in joining the fun next year, please contact Ellen Gundlach (