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What you need to know about the ASA project competition Megan Mocko Senior Lecturer University of Florida

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Agenda What is a project? Can this satisfy any Education Standards? Breaking down the parts of the projects. How do you enter the contest? A few example winning projects. How are the projects judged? FAQ

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WHAT IS A PROJECT?

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What is a Project? The students should... – Ask a question about the world around them. – Design a method to collect data to answer that question. – Summarize the data using summary statistics. – Analyze the data. – Make a conclusion that answers their initial question. – Reflect on the process. Then, the students write up their findings in a written report, averaging about 10 pages.

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STANDARDS

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National Standards in Mathematical Education Projects can be tied to National Standards. For example, the expectations of – grades 3 through 5 include to design investigations to address a question and consider how data-collection methods affect the nature of the data set – grades 6 through 8 include to formulate questions, design studies, and collect data about a characteristic shared by two populations or different characteristics within one population; – grades 9 through 12 include to compute basic statistics and understand the distinction between a statistic and a parameter.

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State Standards Most likely projects can be tied to State Standards as well.

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BREAKDOWN THE PARTS OF THE PROJECT

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Ask a Question About the World Around Them. Have the students brainstorm ideas either as a whole class or in groups. Have them think about their hobbies, music, favorite games. Have they ever had a question about something related to those things? Do they have a question about something they saw in the media?

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Proposals Have students present their idea to the class/group/partner as a proposal. Have the class/group/partner critique each idea.

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Critiques Critiques should include the following questions. Is it possible to answer the question? Does the question need to be more focused? Are there any ethical concerns? How can data be collected to answer that question? Is the idea too complicated? (Keep it simple!) Is there a comparison that could be made between different groups?

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Design a method to collect the data to answer their question. Projects that collect their own data are scored higher on the judges rubric. The data collection method should be discussed clearly in the paper. If used, surveys should be included in the appendix of the paper. Raw data should also appear in the appendix.

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Important Concepts to Consider. Randomize. Replicate. Control extraneous variation.

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Summarize the data using summary statistics and graphs. Provide appropriate graphs for the type of data. For quantitative data, histograms, stem and leaf plots or boxplots are good. For categorical data, bar charts are good. DO NOT use fancy graphics that make the graph hard to read, such as 3D graphs.

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Analyze the Data Use appropriate methods to analyze the data. The expectation of the analysis is age appropriate. For the younger grades, this may be just looking at graphics and summary statistics. The discussion of the graphics should answer the question that was selected at the beginning of the project.

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Analyze the Data (cont) For grades 10 – 12 th, formal statistical inference of some type is sometimes needed, such as a simple linear regression or a comparison of two independent proportions. – The null and alternative hypothesis needs to be clearly stated with notation defined. – The assumptions must be checked. – Important numbers should be given such as a confidence interval or p-value. – Students should fully understand the analysis.

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Make a Conclusion that Answers Their Initial Question The students should write a conclusion based on their analysis in non-technical language that the average person could understand.

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Reflect on the Process No projects are ever perfect. The students should address any issues that they feel they should have done differently. Did the projects have any problems that could have been avoided? If they were to do the project again, what would they do differently? Any ideas for future study?

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Common Problems for the Younger Grades. Having questions that are unclear and unfocused. Not disclosing how much help they received. Failing to make comparisons between two populations.

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Common Problems for Grades 10 – 12 Confusing and Unclear Hypothesis Statements Using Statistical Procedures beyond AP level Statistics and then not being able to explain the procedures adequately. A clear, simple analysis is preferred to a poorly done complicated analysis. Not checking assumptions. Do not say Accepting the null hypothesis. Interpret confidence intervals correctly. Interpret R-squared correctly. (% variation of y explained by x)

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The Write-Up The projects average around 10 pages. The projects for the younger age groups tend to be shorter. Longer write-ups do not necessarily mean better projects, shorter well written projects are better. The paper should exhibit clear, concise writing with correct grammar and spelling. It should be at least 12 point font.

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EXAMPLE PROJECTS

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2008 Top th Grade Project Whos the biggest drinker? Willa Glickman New York, NY

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2008 Top 7 th – 9 th Grade Project Hear it, say it, spell it: Investigating nonvisual pathways for spelling. By Laura S. Levy Woodland Hills, CA

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2008 Top 10 – 12 th Grade Project The association between heavy academic workload and sleep deprivation among high school students. By Qiushuang Jin Iowa City, Iowa

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SUBMITTING THE PROJECT

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Projects Submitted The projects are submitted electronically.

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Deadlines The due date varies by age level. April 1 st is the deadline for projects in the 4 th to 6 th grade 7 th to 9 th grade May 30 th is the new deadline for projects in the 10 th to 12 th grade

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JUDGING

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Brief History of Project Competition Started in 1987, through the efforts of Dwayne Cameron. Linda Young at the University of Florida has been working with the projects since I started assisting this year.

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Judges from the 2008 Competition

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Judging Each project is judged by a teacher and a statistician. Each of the viewpoints are equally important. The teacher ensures that the students understanding is age appropriate and the statistician ensures that the statistical tests are conducted appropriately. The projects are divided into groups of 6 to 10 projects. The judges use a scoring rubric that looks at – Question – Research Design and Data Collection – Analysis of Data and Conclusions – Reflection on Process – Final Presentation – Creativity/Originality Each area is worth 3 points. The top projects out of each group are then identified.

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Second Round of Judging Each groups top picks are then sent to the second round. The judges, statisticians and teachers, look at the top projects and determine the award levels. Great concern is taken to make sure that the data collection process and the statistical methods are handled appropriately, and to make sure that these expectations are age appropriate. Expectations are greater for the higher grade levels.

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Awards First, Second, Third and Honorable Mention are awarded for 4 th to 6 th graders, 7 th to 9 th graders and 10 th to 12 th graders. – 1 st place is awarded -- $2oo, Certificate and Plaque for school – 2 nd place is awarded -- $100 and Certificate – 3 rd place is awarded -- $50 and Certificate – Honorable mention -- Certificate and Ribbon Additionally, through the generous support of Texas Instrument, 1 st place winners and their advisors will be awarded graphing calculators.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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Can a Student use a Science Fair Project? Yes, a students science fair project can be the foundation of the project submitted to the competition. The write-up for the ASA project competition however is different from a write-up for a Science Fair competition. There should be less background information given and a strong emphasis on the design and analysis of the project.

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How much help is too much? It is o.k. for the student to seek guidance from parents, teachers and professional scientists; however, the project needs to be student driven. The student must understand the project completely. Additionally, the student should acknowledge how much help was given and by whom.

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References Many of the ideas of this presentation are from the ASA project website. Linda J. Young, Linda Quinn, and John Schollenberger have contributed to the text on that website.

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