Helix @ CSIRO

For kids who love science

Statistics scavenger hunt

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A scavenger hunt can be an opportunity to explore the use of statistics in the world around you. Think of the scavenger hunt as a way to show the extent of your knowledge, your depth of understanding and your levels of sophistication in using some of your statistical skills.

A  sign for an accounting business. The picture is cropped so you can only see the word 'count'

Look for statistical words in signs and products

Each team will need

What to do

Several cans of hairspray. They each say '25% extra free'.

These cans of hairspray have percentages on them.

Choose the location for your scavenger hunt. You may prefer to do this in a group. A trip to the local markets or an excursion to a busy shopping centre would be ideal.

Each team should start their stopwatch and then complete the following tasks:

  1. Find ten words or objects that start with each letter in the word ‘STATISTICS’. e.g. S = Supermarket, T = Tea shop, etc. Take a photo of each and write a description on your clipboard, so you can find it easily.
  2. Find a store or product that has a statistical word in its title. For example ‘Bob’s Photography’ has the word ‘graph’ in its title. Take a photo of your store or item and write down the word on your clipboard.
    Calculations for finding the average of four prices: $4.95 + $5.50 + $3.20 + $5.15 = $18.80.  $18.80 / 4 = $4.70

    Calculate the average of four prices and see if it’s close to $4.50

  3. Find four different items, with different prices, whose average price is between $4.50 and $5.00. Try to get the average as close to $4.50 as possible. Take a photo of the price of each and show your calculation.
  4. Take a photo of a graph that you see used by a shop or product.
  5. Choose a shop or stall and take a photo of it. Imagine you could ask every customer of the store one question to collect data to improve business. e.g. How long would you be prepared to wait for your coffee to be made? Write down your question on your clipboard.
  6. Look around a store. Take a photo of at least one decimal, at least one fraction and at least one percentage used on signs or products. Do you notice any trends in how these are used? Write your thoughts on the clipboard.

Once you’ve finished all your tasks, stop your stopwatch and meet up with all the other groups.

  1. Record the time taken for each group in the scavenger hunt, and calculate the range, mean, median and mode. Which measure is the best to use in this situation?
  2. Compare your answers and see if you can decide which team did the ‘best’ job. Would it have been easier if you had discussed how to determine this before the scavenger hunt? Why?

More information

A maths scavenger hunt (pdf)

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Author: David

David is Double Helix’s resident mathematician. He writes Maths and Stats by Email, and helps out a bit with the magazines. David loves playing with puzzles, and puzzling over plays.

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