The intro to a statistics lesson in my textbook is a problem about an anthropologist who discovered an early hominoid ulna in Europe. Ugh. I wanted to quit teaching. How could I totally alienate my students with this huge yawn? When would they ever…

But wait! Data analytics is a whole world full of exciting careers: medicine, science, marketing… How could any textbook publisher miss this opportunity? Students who know about newer and more exciting careers have the advantage of knowing why it’s worthwhile to pursue the math. So here’s my substitution:

Intro video: download

Here are some applications that might be more familiar for students:

As you can see, we don’t have the background, yet, to do this line of work; so as the analyst said, *Start with simple things that would apply to our lives…just don’t stop with games. *Here goes:

Our first problem today is about an anthropologist who found an ulna and needed to know how tall the person was; but rather than bore you to tears, let’s imagine something a little closer to home. You all have arms, so the idea of analyzing ulna-to- height isn’t out of our reach. Let’s imagine a friend says, “Hey, I have to help my family clean out my grandpa’s barn. ‘Want to go along just to hang out?”

After this slide, students begin to gather data required by the textbook (ulna to height) and make conjectures about how tall the humanoid was. The only difference will be in the attitude the students bring to the problem.

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Nice! I am saving this YouTube video to introduce my statistics unit and think I will look for more similar type videos for my other units. Thanks for sharing how you could easily change the book problem to make it more interesting for the students.

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I’m glad you like it, Tracey. I think the difficult part is finding time to think about alternatives to whatever is in front of us.

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