Selecting Your Topic for the Michigan Statistics Poster Competition (MSPC) for K-12
In the last issue of the Interchange, a new event, called the Michigan Statistics Poster Competition, was announced. A statistics poster is a visual display that uses one or more related graphs to summarize data, discuss different points of view, and answer question(s) about the data. The purpose of the poster competition is to get students involved in statistical activities while exercising essential communication skills. All students in K through 12 residing in Michigan are eligible to submit statistics posters to the competition.
Teachers for grades K-3:
You can make the creation of a statistics poster a class project and enter a poster from the whole class or break your class up into smaller groups and have each group submit a poster. Whichever way you choose, you can show your students how fun graphing can be while entering a competition with a chance of winning cash prizes and certificates. The posters submitted from grades K-3 may contain one or more graphs.
Teachers for grades 4-12:
There is a maximum of 4 students per group. You can do a poster as an example in class and then break your students up into groups and have them each select a topic that interests them for the statistics poster. The posters submitted at these grade levels must contain more than one graph. Entries will be judged in four different grade level categories: K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12.
No matter which grade the students are from, the first step is coming up with an interesting topic. The key to creating a good poster is finding a topic you enjoy. You'll do a better job and have more fun if the topic interests you.
Here are a few ideas to help your students decide on a topic. The students can use brainstorming to help them identify a poster topic. First, the students compile a list of possible topics. To do this, they can use the Internet, look through magazines or newspapers, list their favorite sports and hobbies, etc. Once a list is selected, then the class/team members can go over the list and begin to critique which ideas have the best merit and are most interesting. If none of the original ideas pan out, a new list can be started and the whole process repeated until the class/team members reach a consensus on a good topic. Another thing that students need to consider when choosing the topic is how they are going to collect data on the topic. For some topics, you may be able to find data on the Internet or in a book. Other topics may require going out and collecting their own data by surveying classmates, observing behaviors, or performing scientific measurements, for example. I have given some examples below of possible topics that could be used for posters. Each idea uses a different type of data collection.
Suppose you have a group of students that all like baseball. That is a broad category you would need to narrow down. For example, the students could find the number of home runs hit by the home run champions over the past 40 years in the American and National Leagues. They could then do separate graphs, possibly bar charts, for each league so that comparisons could be made between the two leagues on homerun output.
Suppose a group of students all love skittle's and M&M's. They could each buy a bag of skittles and a bag of M&M's and use the candy as their data. They could do a pie chart showing the percentage of each kind of candy that is a certain color. They could then compare the percentages for the two kinds of candy.
A student can take a poll of students at his school. He can ask each student "What is your favorite pet?" He can then do a bar chart of the data collected. If he also records the student's gender (or grade), he can give separate bar charts by gender (or by grade). In this way, he can compare the favorite pets by gender (or grade).