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Using a Paper Ruler Activity to Help Students Understand the Difference Between Random and Systematic Errors . By Jamis J. Perrett, Ph.D. Department of Statistics. The Classroom: 100 students. The Class: Statistical Literacy. The Objectives.

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Using a Paper Ruler Activity to Help Students Understand the Difference Between Random and Systematic Errors

By Jamis J. Perrett, Ph.D.

Department of Statistics


The classroom 100 students
The Classroom: 100 students Difference Between Random and Systematic Errors


The class statistical literacy
The Class: Statistical Literacy Difference Between Random and Systematic Errors


The objectives
The Objectives Difference Between Random and Systematic Errors

  • Help students learn the difference between random and systematic errors.

  • Engage students in an activity involving statistics.

  • Focus on concepts.

  • Give students a concrete application of statistics that they can associate with the topic being studied.


Slides the students see in class
Slides the Students See in Class… Difference Between Random and Systematic Errors


Types of error
Types Difference Between Random and Systematic Errors of Error

  • Random Error:

    • Expected/Normal/Real-life

    • Happens by chance

    • Effect can be reduced by caution and averages of repeated measurements

  • Systematic Error:

    • Consistent errors caused by an inaccuracy in the measurement instrument or some other aspect of the measurement process

    • Can be removed by correcting the problem in the process that is causing the error


Types of error1
Types of Error Difference Between Random and Systematic Errors

Examples:

  • How much do you weigh?

    • Subtle movements while standing on a scale can cause slightly inaccurate measurements.

    • A scale that is always off by +5 lbs. is always giving inaccurate measurements.

  • What is the actual length of the football field?

    • Using a 25 foot tape measure to measure the length of a football field will not always result in an exact measurement.

    • A tape measure that had numbers and scales inaccurately printed will consistently give inaccurate measurements.

  • Potato Chip bags have weights pre-printed. So, a bag that indicates 12oz. Had that weight printed before the actual chips were weighed.

    • What random errors could affect the weight of a bag of potato chips?

    • What systematic errors could effect the weight of a bag of potato chips?


Ruler activity
Ruler Activity Difference Between Random and Systematic Errors

  • Measure the length of your desk (front to back) three times each, using the two paper rulers (to the nearest 1/16th of an inch).

  • One ruler is accurate. One is not.

  • Systematic error?

  • Random error?


Handout
Handout Difference Between Random and Systematic Errors


Students working on the activity
Students working on the activity. Difference Between Random and Systematic Errors


More students working on the activity
More students working on the activity. Difference Between Random and Systematic Errors


Post activity debriefing
Post-activity Debriefing Difference Between Random and Systematic Errors

  • What might cause multiple measurements using the same ruler to differ?

  • What might cause measurements of the same object with different instruments to differ?


In conclusion
In Conclusion… Difference Between Random and Systematic Errors

The activity

  • gets students engaged.

  • shows students the difference.

  • provides students with a concrete application that they can associate with the topic.

  • focuses on the concept.

  • can be used with classes of any size.

  • does not require additional materials.


Questions comments
Questions? Difference Between Random and Systematic Errors Comments?


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