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Statistics and Probability

May 17, 2000

From baseball batting averages to census demographics, we use statistics and probability to help us understand our world and to make decisions about what to do. Knowing how to collect and analyze information correctly and being able to predict the chances of an event occurring are important skills to help us uncover information and evaluate the accuracy of information we encounter, such as consumer surveys and election polls. Become a knowledgeable consumer through these direct links on The Times Launch Point Web site:

Level 1

Figure This! Math Challenges for Families: If one player has four hits in five at-bats and another player goes three for three, who has the higher batting average? Calculate averages and find out how such unexpected results are called Simpson's Paradoxes after a mathematician from the 1700s.

National Council for Educational Statistics Games & Activities: Pass out a survey to your friends and evaluate the results. Learn how various types of graphs can communicate information and play "What are your chances?" to learn about probability through online rolls of dice.

Using Data and Statistics: See how line graphs, pie charts and bar graphs are used to communicate information and find out the difference between the mean, the mode and the median.

Level 2

Ask Dr. Math About Probability and Statistics: Have you ever wondered how to get the probability of lottery outcomes or what the chance of getting a red M & M is? Let Dr. Math teach you the answers to these and many other interesting questions.

Neuroscience for Kids: What if you read that four of five kids said ice cream was their favorite snack but it turned out the survey was conducted outside of an ice cream parlor? Find out how statistics can be misleading and why it is important to know how to collect and analyze data properly.

What Is Statistics? Florence Nightingale collected statistics during the course of her nursing work that led to health policy reforms, saving countless lives. Learn about the skills needed to be a good statistician and read interesting stories of people in statistics careers ranging from market research and governmental surveys to scientific investigations and medicine.

Level 3

Bureau of Transportation Statistics: High School Activities: Collecting data and analyzing statistics can be helpful in making many types of decisions. Try some real-world applications of statistics by using mean and median to determine which airline has the best on-time record, creating charts to determine which car is the safest and developing a survey to discover what makes buses run late.

Polls: What Do the Numbers Tell Us? How accurate are poll results reported in an election season? Find out about statistical concepts such as random sample, margin of error and confidence level through this case study of a fictional election and access helpful statistical resources.

Probability Central: What is the probability that on a single random draw from a deck of 52 cards either a black face card or a red ace will be drawn? Get acquainted with probability theory, models and properties, try out a probability calculator and test your knowledge with a game of Probability Poker.


The answer to this Internet quiz can be found in the sites at right.

What is the probability that you will pick two aces in a row out of a 52-card deck?

CLUE: See Ask Dr. Math about Probability and Statistics

Find What You Need to Know: Have a project on California history? Need help doing a math problem? Launch Point now covers more than 100 topics for getting your schoolwork done. Go to for the full list of subjects and direct links to the best Internet sites.

Answer to last week's Quest: Celsius developed a fixed temperature scale in which zero degrees is the temperature at which water freezes and 100 degrees is the temperature at which water boils.

Launch Point is produced by the UC Irvine department of education, which reviews each site for appropriateness and quality. Even so, parents should supervise their children's use of the Internet. This column was designed by Norma Gutierrez, Rebecca Brown, Kelly Huff and Anna Manring.

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