SEEKING TRUTH IN STATISTICS, OR: IS EVERYTHING I THINK ACTUALLY WRONG? By Sarah Doenmez, Academic Dean

Students in Mr. Adams’  Statistics class spent their final two classes presenting on the projects that are the culmination of their year. They formulated questions and assumptions to test, gathered data, performed statistical analyses, drew conclusions, and explained the confounding variables for further inquiry. They communicated their findings with clarity and a sense of fun too.    

Mylisha Drayton wondered what percent of the student body exceeds the athletic requirement by playing more than one competitive sport. She hypothesized that around 50% of the school does so, but found that the percentage was actually much higher. The surprise in her findings is that the Junior class is the least engaged in athletics, but that 80% of the seniors play more than one season of competitive sports. Her conclusion? “Maybe Dublin actually is kind of a jock school.”

 Will Hamer wondered whether Lewis Hamilton’s switch from McLaren to Mercedes was good for his career. A racecar driver, Hamilton made the switch last year. Will found that Hamilton had been more likely to win with McLaren, but was more likely to finish consistently within the top 10 with Mercedes.

Chris Ramey wondered if FDR had helped the American economy; his challenge lay in creating a reliable method. Ultimately he compared GDP and unemployment numbers each year from 1930 – 1945. Annual figures did not quite give him enough data to prove statistically that FDR had improved the economy despite the fact that the numbers he did have clearly showed positive trends.  Chris is hooked and hopes to work further with econometrics next year.

Max Brooke examined whether the average GPA at Dublin School had improved since 2008, and was able to show that as he suspected, it had, but explained the different other factors he would need to test to be able to suggest why this might be the case.

Atsede Assayghen showed that the most popular music with Dublin School members does not mirror the national average. We like Folk and Hip-Hop way more than Americans in general.

Max Clary investigated the correlation between Academic Level and number of hours spent studying and was able to show that students on Excellent this spring are not working  more hours than students on Satisfactory, contrary to popular (faculty) belief.

Andrew Parnes investigated the rate of the rise in the US national debt between 1953 and 2013.

I came away from these presentations  impressed with the idea that most of the thoughts I generate in the course of my daily life may not be true and really ought to be tested. The students too confirmed that they would be likely to use this sort of study again independently to look more deeply into an idea. The statistics students have attained the most elusive part of Dublin’s mission in these projects: to seek truth.