The U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools launched last week with an “Everyone Counts” fall festival in Tennessee’s Shelby County Schools, focused around an assortment of 2020 Census classroom activities aimed at encouraging all families to participate in the coming census.
The program aims to raise awareness around the role of schools in acquiring accurate community census counts, and while games and classroom activities aren’t specific to any subject area, they do bring data into the classroom. The program includes 67 new activities that include a song, interactive videos and wall maps.
The program also focuses on English Language Learners and includes information for adult ELLs. Math activities include information about how students can use math and statistics to make real-life decisions and identify changes in their communities.
While part of the program’s purpose is to encourage students to urge their families to participate in the 2020 Census, the statistics gleaned from the work unlock valuable — and interesting — data that can encourage deeper math exploration. Many math and science professionals believe schools need to teach more statistic and data analysis, with some saying statistics is more important than calculus.
The idea does seem to be catching on. The number of students earning bachelor’s degrees in statistical science nearly doubled between 2009 and 2013, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The statistics industry hopes to encourage even more high school and college students to follow this career path by providing fact sheets touting top statistic careers. The McKinsey Global Institute predicts a 190,000-person labor shortage of people with statistical data skills.
Another selling point for the industry is its high salaries. Annual average pay is as high as $138,910 per year in Silicon Valley, and there’s also expected to be plenty of those jobs to go around. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates statistician jobs to grow by 34%, while the rest of the job market only grows by 7%.
Aside from the Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools, the American Statistical Association is helping to promote the Census at School program. The program engages students by giving them a 15-minute online survey before allowing them to compare the findings from their class with those in other classrooms nationwide. Organizers hope the survey will trigger students’ excitement in data collection and show how it can open informational doorways.