Category Archives: Stats and General Interest

School Resources

Occasionally a resource will pop-up that may prove useful in a stats lesson. Here are links to two…one old, one new.

The first is from Sir David Spiegelhalter, who is Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge. you can find it on his blog Understanding Uncertainty.

It is an interactive version of the famous Florence Nightingale Coxcombs, the originals being produced by Nightingale sometime after the Crimean War (1853-1856). There are links here to other related resources making this a fantastic cross-curricular activity. The resource itself is in Adobe Flash.

The second is a game stumbled upon on Twitter. Created by Omar Wagih a Bioinformatics PhD student, who you can tweet @omarwagih. The game called produces a series of scatter plots and asks participants to guess the correlation between two variables.

I am sure you can think of lots of ways the game can be incorporated into a stats lesson. It might also be fun  to combine it with a discussion of correlation more generally. This could include a link to Spurious Correlation (featured here before) that now has a spurious correlation discovery tool.

Dr Michael A Posner – School Statistics Talk

Here is a link to the presentation (PowerPoint) by Dr Posner for his school STEM talk he gave recently here at Plymouth.

This is just the first half, the second half containing the activities has been removed as it would be difficult for someone to deliver these without supporting material. However if you are interested in finding out more please visit Dr Posner’s profile page at Villanova University.

The talk detailed Dr Posner’s personal journey to becoming AssociatArt_of_Stats_Talke Professor of Statistics in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Villanova University. It covered the STEM career opportunities for those studying statistics, the importance of data and some innovative uses of data. It also included some current trending topics such as Big Data and the rise of the Data Scientist.

 “For Today’s Graduate, Just One Word: Statistics”

- NYTimes (2009)

We would again like to thank Dr Posner for his time and of course the two local schools who brought their pupils along and made the event possible ( these were Plymouth High School for Girls and Stover School).

Talk_on_Statistics_Plymouth University_Jan2016

Unfortunately the sound recording from this session had far too much echo and wasn’t clear, if there is time in the future we will put up a transcript of the Q&A.

Dr Michael A. Posner – Propensity Score Analysis

Recently Dr Michael A. Posner, Associate Professor of Statistics, Villanova University, USA, visited Plymouth University.

Dr. Posner gave two talks during his visit the first of which is now available to view online. The talk held on the 20th of January 2016 was entitled ‘Making Valid Inferences in Observational Studies using Propensity Score Analysis’, you can read the full abstract by downloading the leaflet for the day, linked below.

Making Valid Inferences in Observational Studies using Propensity Score Analysis

We would like to thank Michael for his visit and talk, we have had wonderful comments from attendees to both talks and have had many requests externally for links to the presentation. Incidentally, if you would rather view just the slides you can view Michael’s profile and previous talks on his profile page, linked to above and in the leaflet.

We would like to thank PedRIO (Pedagogic Research Institute and Observatory at the University of Plymouth) who supported the event and of course all those who attended, we had a great turnout with a wide cross section of academic staff from across the University.


The audience audio for the questions and answers segment was not totally clear so these are part of a separate video.

These videos are .MOV and large and may take a while to download.

There are more videos from other talks to follow, once these are done they will all be added to our resource page.


Official Statistics, our Infographic Competition and Excel

As part of the new Winton Infographic Competition KS3 and KS4 students will be expected to produce various graphs to add to their submitted Infographic. So, we thought this would be an ideal time to link to the updated Graph It resource.

Originally part of CensusAtSchool UK the resource has been updated with instructions on how to produce various graphs in Excel. This version forms part of the IASE (International Association for Statistical Education) GovStats resource for teaching Official Statistics.

The resource includes instructions for; Pie Charts, Bar Charts, Histograms, Population Pyramids, Box Plots, Time Series and Scatter Graphs.

If you are looking around for a Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 Mathematics and Statistics activity  why not take a look at the new Winton Infographic Competition, entries need to be submitted by the 25th of April.


Dr Michael A Posner to visit the ICSE

We are very excited to announce that Dr Michael A Posner, Associate Professor of Statistics, Villanova University, USA and director of the Center for Statistical Education (not related), will be visiting Plymouth University early in the New Year to give a talk.

Dr. Posner is currently on sabbatical at The Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics Centre for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge.

The talk to be held on the 20th of January 2016 is entitled ‘Making Valid Inferences in Observational Studies using Propensity Score Analysis’, you can read the full abstract, get further information and book your place using the link below. All are welcome but priority will be for Plymouth University staff so please book early if you wish to attend.

The talk is supported by PedRIO (Pedagogic Research Institute and Observatory at the University of Plymouth).

Making Valid Inferences in Observational Studies using Propensity Score Analysis


Don’t Panic – How to End Poverty in 15 Years

Tomorrow night on BBC TWO (UK) Statistician Professor Hans Rosling is back with more amazing visualisations, showing the world how we can end poverty. This is part of the BBC’s This World series, find out more using the link below.

Professor Rosling is an excellent communicator and educator who likes to let data do the talking with some exceptional data visualisations. Watch the programme live on the 23rd September (8:00pm, BBC TWO) or catch it on the iPlayer (UK) afterward.

Many of you will be familiar with the GapMinder project and the previous programme shown on the BBC to feature Professor Rosling entitled The Joy of Stats, this appears to now be available, in full, on YouTube.

No news but here is a link to another blog, that is updated far more regularly than this one, that has a varied and interesting set of articles.

Our attention has been drawn to it from the prolific New Zealand based Stats Chat blog, particularly due to a recent post regarding statistician and serial R package creator, Hadley Wickham.

#60ISIWSC – 60th World Statistics Congress

topo_bgThe International Statistics Institute World Statistics Congress

For your information, the 60th ISI World Statistics Congress (WSC) will be taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during 26–31 July 2015.

The congress brings together members of the statistical community, from across the globe, to present, discuss, promote and disseminate research and best practice in every field of Statistics and its applications.

You can find out more using the link and can keep up with what is going on using the hashtag #60ISIWSC.

For those with an interest in statistical education there is a satellite conference held by the IASE during the 22-24 July. There is a separate site with a full programme of events available now, it can be found at

ONS Census 2021 – Have Your Say

On a slightly related note the Office for National Statistics have announced there are now only 6 weeks remaining to haCensus2021ve your say with regards the next national census that will take place in 2021.

You can view a statement on the consultation from John Pullinger, National Statistician, on the ONS website. The link in full is below.

WinAtSchool 2015 Winners …

1st Place Marling School

Neil Sheldon and Vicky Neale present the team from Marling School with their prize.

On Wednesday the 1st of July at Venue Reading the final of the Winton Capital Management National School 2015 Final 12 Top TeamsMathematics & Statistics Competition took place.

After three rounds of 14 questions on topics including percentages, probability, algebraic graphs, reasoning, geometry and more the wining team scoring an impressive 119 out of a possible 126, and walking away with a cash prize of £2,500, were Marling School from Gloucestershire.

Second place went to Colyton Grammar School from Devon (£1,000), while third went to Bourne Grammar Winton pens and pads used in the final.School from Lincolnshire (£500). You can read all about the final over at

The event was hosted by Neil Sheldon, the Royal Statistical Society’s vice president for education and statistical literacy, while the quiz master for this year was Dr Vicky Neale, Whitehead Lecturer at the Mathematical Institute and Balliol College at the University of Oxford.

Well done to all 12 teams that made it to final and thank you to our sponsor, Winton Capital Management, for making it happen.

WinAtSchool – Significance, Teaching Statistics and How Not to be Wrong

Thanks to our Maths Competition sponsor, Winton Capital Management, we were able to provide a goodie bag for the teachers attending the 2015 live final.

Amongst the treasures, all wrapped up in a reusable Winton bag, we had Jordan Ellenberg’s  “How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking”, perfect light reading for those who appreciate the importance of mathematics.

In addition we had a relevant editiofeb-2015-cover of Significancen of Significance Magazine (February 2015 (Vol 12 Issue 1)) and the Spring issue of Teaching Statistics (Volume 37, Issue 1). Both were provided directly by Wiley (@Wiley_Stats) who we wish to thank on behalf of the teachers.

Incidentally, UK based teachers can get a reduced rate subscription to Teaching Statistics (Print + Online) if they’re a NCTM/IASE or RSS e-teacher Member, find details here. And you can access all issues up to 11:2 of Significance for free here.