To Understand the World, Learn to Understand Statistics

Sep 16, 2020 | Location Olney

To Understand the World, Learn to Understand Statistics

By Mathnasium  

“Statistics are the heart of democracy.”— Simeon Strunsky, essayist and editorialist, NYT 1944

In the information age, as the volume of digital and electronic data increases exponentially, the field of statistics is enjoying its heyday. In honor of Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month in April, it’s time to take a fresh look at statistics, which not only plays a pivotal role in modern society but is also a pretty great career choice!

 

What is the field of statistics?

Statistics is the field of learning from data. Statisticians use math to collect, analyze, organize, interpret, and present data to answer questions or solve problems.

Statistics is a window to the world. Once you learn how to look through that window, you’ll be a more critical thinker, able to question what you read or hear (including statistics!) rather than accept information at face value.

Cool Stat: There are far more trees on Earth (about 3 trillion) than there are stars in the Milky Way (about 100 billion). — WorldAtlas.com

People use statistics every day to improve society, have fun, satisfy curiosity and make money. But statistics isn’t just about crunching numbers. Like math, it’s a tool and a method for understanding the world. Every time you check the weather, read about business or elections, buy a retail product or take medicine, statistics played a role in making that information or product available and in determining its price. Want to fight for human or animal rights? You’ll need stat for that. Want to solve a global health crisis, cure cancer or save the environment? You’ll need stat for that, too.

Learn statistics to understand the world.

We read or hear statistics all the time, often without realizing it. Source: Statusbrew.com

Where do statisticians work?

Most science, technology, business or government organizations use statistics (and statisticians) to solve problems and improve decision-making. Statistics-specific jobs are available in wide array of fields, from astrostatistics, which analyzes astronomical data, to statistical finance, which applies statistics to financial markets.

Most people who use statistics in their job aren’t necessarily called “statisticians.” Job titles include manager, engineer, professor, researcher, and analyst, among others. There are hundreds of cool statistics jobs, such as

  • chief data scientist for a presidential campaign
  • animal health statistician
  • machine learning developer for a cloud-computing company
  • marine life data analyst
  • director of analytics for a professional sports team

(Source: Thisisstatistics.org)

Cool Stat: There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar. — Mathematical Association of America

Students interested in becoming full-time statisticians typically obtain a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, economics, computer science or another quantitative field. They often go on to earn a master’s degree in a quantitative field or in another area, but with a focus on statistics.

Is being a statistician a good career?

The job of statistician consistently makes “best jobs” lists. In its ranking for 2020, U.S. News and World Report ranked statistician as:

Why is statistician such as great career? The expected salary, work/life balance, room for career advancement and skills required for the job compare very favorably to other careers. (Mathematician was also highly ranked, at #3, #9, and #14, respectively.)

Because statistical analysis has become so central to making informed business, healthcare or policy decisions, jobs for statisticians are expected to grow much faster than average occupations: 31% from 2018 to 2028. That dramatic statistic comes from … wait for it … the (very important) U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Cool Stat: The U.S. leads the world in time spent watching television, with an average of more than 4.5 hours each day. — The Nielsen Company

How does statistics analyze data?

We can’t talk about statistics without defining the two main statistical methods (or branches), both of which are important: descriptive and inferential.

Descriptive statistics describes data, for example, in a chart or graph. A baseball player’s batting percentage is a descriptive statistic. (Known as sabermetrics, the analysis of baseball statistics became widely known through the book and movie, “Moneyball.”) These descriptive statistics are certain, without room for doubt.

Inferential statistics uses data to infer — make generalized predictions — to a broader population. With inferential statistics, the results are uncertain, because you’re using a sample to understand a larger group.

Why math and statistics are so important in school.

Source: statisticsguruonline.com

For example, let’s say you ask a sample of 100 guests attending a theme park if they eat cotton candy. You could make a bar chart of “yes” or “no” answers (descriptive statistics) that would be true for those 100 people. Or, you could use your research (and inferential statistics) to estimate that around 60-65% of the population (all guests in all theme parks) eat cotton candy. Both types of statistics would be helpful to the theme park’s owners.

It’s easiest to remember that statistics answer questions that don’t have a single answer. For example, “How much do you weigh?” is not a statistical question. But “How much do the students in your school weigh?” is.

Learn statistics to understand the world.

Statistics can find trends and, in presenting them to the public, change behavior. Source: www.plg-pllc.com

Statistics in U.S. schools

Cool Stat: On average, teachers affect more than 3,000 students during their career. — We Are Teachers

From 2007 to 2017, 4th and 8th grade students’ scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in mathematics fell significantly on problems related to data analysis, statistics and probability — a decline that helped drive overall dips on the math test in 2017 (Education Week, May 2018). With the advent of data science, some educators are now pushing to add statistics classes that don’t require a calculus prerequisite or to integrate statistics and data literacy into classes such as science or history, sometimes as early as middle school.

For now, only a minority of students will take a statistics class in high school. In college, though, a long list of majors require one or more classes in statistics, including engineering and any science (including all agricultural, medical, and social sciences). Business and many humanities majors may also require statistical understanding for such wide-ranging fields as education, urban or ethnic studies, linguistics, and law.

“Chart” Your Own Path

Whatever your or your child’s passion, statistics used in that area to identify trends and present information that makes a difference. Although many students (and their parents) are intimidated by statistics, a good teacher, book or website can illustrate not only the “how to,” but also the “why” of statistics. We hope you’ll click on some of the recommended links below to learn more about how statistics work, the many ways they’re being used, and enjoy some really fun facts!

Recommended websites:

This is Statistics

Statistic Brain Research Institute

Statistics by Jim

What’s Going On In This Graph?, a weekly New York Times’ feature

Some “Cool Careers” that incorporate statistics:

Archeologist, Anthropologist…Crime Fighter?

Yankee Lives His Dream, Thanks to Mathnasium

Numbers “Talk” for This Storyteller

Entrepreneur Needs Math to Bring Revolutionary Products to Life

Designing a Dynamic Pet Dinosaur: Mattel’s Michael Kadile

Neuroscientist Uses Math to Study Behavior Outside the Norm

Written by Joanne Helperin

Locations near
me
Ashburn 0.93 mi
43330 Junction Plaza
#160
Ashburn, VA 20147
Sterling 4.07 mi
44 Pidgeon Hill Drive
#100
Sterling, VA 20165
Leesburg 5.69 mi
521 E Market St
#B
Leesburg, VA 20176
Herndon 7.66 mi
2465 Centreville Road
#J2
Herndon, VA 20171
Stone Ridge 7.88 mi
42020 Village Center Plaza
#100
Stone Ridge, VA 20105
Reston 8.62 mi
1424 North Point Village Center
Reston, VA 20194
Purcellville 12.72 mi
1020 E Main St
Ste L
Purcellville, VA 20132
North Potomac 13.58 mi
12150 Darnestown Rd
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Centreville 14.52 mi
5959 Centreville Crest Ln
Centreville, VA 20121
Fairfax 14.67 mi
11891 Grand Commons Ave
Fairfax, VA 22030
Potomac 14.98 mi
10232 River Road
#B
Potomac, MD 20854
Germantown MD 15.03 mi
12800 Middlebrook Road
Germantown, MD 20874
Tysons 15.45 mi
328 Maple Ave E
#A
Vienna, VA 22180
Haymarket 17.87 mi
15125 Washington St
Haymarket, VA 20169
Rockville 18.19 mi
20 Courthouse Square
#106
Rockville, MD 20850
Mclean 18.23 mi
1320 Old Chain Bridge Road
Suite #190
McLean, VA 22101
Gaithersburg 18.71 mi
9132 Rothbury Drive
Gaithersburg, MD 20886
North Bethesda 20.42 mi
5268 Nicholson Ln
#N
Kensington, MD 20895
Falls Church 20.59 mi
6674 Arlington Blvd
Falls Church, VA 22042
Manassas 20.65 mi
9722 Liberia Ave
Manassas, VA 20110
Bristow 20.71 mi
12705 Braemar Village Pz
Bristow, VA 20136
Burke 20.82 mi
9411 Old Burke Lake Rd
#C
Burke, VA 22015
Bethesda 21.3 mi
4918 Fairmont Ave
Bethesda, MD 20814
Annandale 21.64 mi
7000 Columbia Pike
Annandale, VA 22003
Damascus 22.77 mi
9815 Main St
Damascus, MD 20872
Arlington, VA 23.29 mi
4801 1st St N
Arlington, VA 22203
Cathedral Heights 23.51 mi
3706 Macomb St NW
Washington, D.C., DC 20016
Olney 23.96 mi
18157 Village Center Dr
Olney, MD 20832
Downtown Silver Spring 24.94 mi
1133 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Lorton 25.06 mi
9027 Silverbrook Rd
#A
Fairfax Station, VA 22039
West Washington 25.69 mi

Washington, DC 20009
Alexandria City 25.7 mi
4605 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22304
Lake Ridge 26.5 mi
12473 Dillingham Square
Lake Ridge, VA 22192
Frederick North 26.7 mi
905 W. 7th Street
Frederick, MD 21701
Northern Silver Spring 26.75 mi
732 Cloverly Street
Silver Spring, MD 20905
Alexandria 27.17 mi
6483 Old Beulah Street
Alexandria, VA 22315
Warrenton 27.42 mi
512 Fletcher Drive
Warrenton, VA 20186
Mount Airy 28.24 mi
411 E Ridgeville Blvd
Mt Airy, MD 21771
Capitol Hill DC 28.48 mi
621 Pennsylvania Ave SE
1st-floor unit
Washington, DC 20003
Dale City 28.99 mi
5512 Staples Mill Plaza
Dale City, VA 22193
Mount Vernon 29.66 mi
7696 H Richmond Hwy
Alexandria, VA 22306
Beltsville 30.89 mi
10914 Baltimore Ave
#B
Beltsville, MD 20705
Clarksville 31.56 mi
12250 Clarksville Pike
#D
Clarksville, MD 21029
Laurel 35.02 mi
10095 Washington Blvd N
#136
Laurel, MD 20723
Woodmore 35.27 mi
9101 Woodmore Centre Drive
Lanham, MD 20706
Glenn Dale 35.83 mi
10559 Greenbelt Rd
Lanham, MD 20706
Sykesville 36.57 mi
1207 Liberty Rd.
#D-104
Sykesville, MD 21784
Ellicott City 37.11 mi
3290 Pine Orchard Lane
#B
Ellicott City, MD 21042
Winchester 37.62 mi
2512 S Pleasant Valley Rd
Winchester, VA 22601
Columbia 38.19 mi
8827 Centre Park Drive
#F
Columbia, MD 21045
Stafford 39.58 mi
263 Garrisonville Road
#104
Stafford, VA 22554
Bowie 41.26 mi
15231 Hall Rd
Bowie, MD 20721
Waldorf 42.24 mi
3022 Festival Way
Waldorf, MD 20601
Crofton 42.6 mi
1153 Route 3 North
#120
Crofton, MD 21054
Owings Mills 44.15 mi
9433 Common Brook Rd #100
Owings Mills, MD 21117
Pikesville 46.84 mi
1433 Reisterstown Rd
Pikesville, MD 21208
Dunkirk 49.92 mi
10735 Town Center Blvd
#7
Dunkirk, MD 20754