As a branch of knowledge statistics refers to the collection, presentation, analysis and interpretation of data. Statistics is critical to many aspects of life; however, few students truly master its skills. Being able to manipulate data and understand what it is telling you helps in drawing general conclusions about the world around you, and helps you understand what is really happening in the world. It is not only a tool for researchers, but should be a valuable skill for anyone to have in their back pocket.
The American Statistical Association (ASA) is the world’s largest community of statisticians and also provides many great resources for statistics educators at all levels. We connected with the ASA to gather a few statistical resources for students and teachers who want a little extra push at engaging with statistics. There are curriculum guides, lesson plans, classroom resources, and yes, even academic competitions! Check them out below!
Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education (GAISE) Report: A Pre-K–12 Curriculum Framework provides recommendations and a curriculum framework with examples for teaching statistics in the pre-K–12 years.
Statistics Education Web (STEW)—An ASA resource that provides peer-reviewed lesson plans for anyone who teaches statistical concepts in their classrooms.
Free ASA Publications for Teachers—Free publications that include classroom investigations.
Statistics Teacher—An ASA online publication for statistics teachers, including lesson plans and grade-specific insights.
Census at School—An international classroom project that engages students in statistical problem solving using their own data.
What’s Going on In This Graph—A partnership between ASA and the New York Times Learning Network that explores graphs, maps and charts from the week’s news, and invites students to discuss them live.
This is Statistics provides videos and resources for educators to promote the study of statistics.
Student Competitions Online
Data Visualization Poster Competition (Grades K–12)—A competition for data visualization posters, in which students create a display containing two or more related graphics that summarize a set of data, look at the data from different points of view, and answer specific questions about the data.
Statistics Project Competition (Grades 7–9)—A competition for statistics projects, in which students answer a research question using statistical techniques and present the work in a written report.
This is Statistics Fall Data Challenge (high school and college) —A national contest for high school and undergraduate students to apply their statistical and data visualization skills to examine a relevant and timely topic and demonstrate the real-world impact of data.
Virtual Science Fair (Grades K–12)—An opportunity for students working independently or as a member of a team, to spend the month investigating an interesting topic, and submit a short video highlighting their process and results.
Statistics for Science Fair Projects (Grades K–12)—A This is Statistics resource to help students apply statistics to their science fair projects.
Modeling the Future Challenge (Grades 11-12) – don’t miss this premier competition from the Actuarial Foundation in which students analyze real-world data, review risks, and make recommendations on how to improve the future.
Don’t miss these opportunities to learn more about how you can pump up your students’ statistics knowledge, and compete for these prestigious academic challenges!
Students need to learn so many skills before they enter the adult world and start making decisions on their own. While schools are working hard to prepare children for the future, some lessons cannot be taught in the classroom.
With this gap, it is no surprise many young people spend their first few years away from home struggling to figure out how to succeed on their own. As parents, educators, and business leaders have come together, they have realized that academic competitions are one of the best ways to teach these missing skills.
When students participate in an academic competition, they learn the real-world skills not taught in school while also putting into practice the concepts they have already touched on.
One of the abilities the next generation will need to succeed in today’s digital world is data management. Academic competitions like The Modeling the Future Challenge are swooping in to teach students this marketable tool in a fun and concrete way.
So, why is data management so important?
Data management helps us make big decisions.
Both personally and professionally, all decisions we make are based on some form of data. Think about it. When you get dressed in the morning, you may look at the expected high and low temperatures, if there is rain, snow, or sun outside, and what season it is, to decide what to wear.
While this is a simple example, each of these is a piece of data you thought about to make an educated decision. The process is no different for big decisions like making an investment, taking a job, or how many college classes to take at a time.
Teaching students how to organize and manage the data they encounter daily will help them make their own big decisions in the future.
Data management helps us see the big picture.
When small things happen over a large period-of-time, it is easy to miss their impact. However, when we take a step back and look at the entirety of any situation, it’s easy to see the effects of small repetitive actions; a great example of this rainfall in a given region. It may seem only to rain a few inches at a time, but when you look at the totals for the entire year, you can spot a surplus or deficits and make changes accordingly. These big picture realizations are the driving force behind the daily realities of our lives.
Data management is one of the best tools a business can leverage for growth.
Whether a company is large or small, they are continuously collecting data from various points; what customers buy and don’t buy, what time of year materials are available or out of stock, even what time of day they need more staff in the building.
These may seem like obvious decisions, but every one of them is based on the data someone collected and organized to guide best practice. Having good data management skills will make students an asset to whatever company or industry they decide to pursue.
Where can students learn data management skills?
Unfortunately, the formal education system doesn’t do much for teaching data science and data management. We need to look beyond the formal classroom to help with this critical real-world skill. One of the best academic competitions for teaching students data management is the Modeling the Future Challenge. In this competition, students get the opportunity to solve real-world problems by collecting and analyzing data.
Participants in the Modeling the Future Challenge won’t stop there, though. They will then use what they have learned to develop a solution that can be implemented to make the world we live in a better place. That means they will need to organize and present their data so that others can understand their concept and the outcome.
This part is crucial because students will be presenting their ideas to leading business professionals in the industries they may themselves work one day.
The Modeling the Future Challenge is the perfect balance of pushing students to learn new skills and motivate them to work hard to achieve their goals.
Registration is already open for the Modeling the Future Challenge, so don’t wait and register today!
If your ready to have fun and learn new skills along the way, head to our competitions page to see what academic competitions are coming up. Set up your account to follow competitions that excite you and stay up-to-date on all the news with academic competitions.
See more than one academic competition you would like to participate in? Upgrade to a premium account so you can track your progress in competitions, get insider information on academic competitions, access the ICS competitions concierge, and gain exclusive discounts on ICS-managed programs.”
The world of academic competitions is continually evolving. Every year brings new programs to light, and some others shut their doors. There are new deadlines, new rules, and new requirements to keep track of. With thousands of competitions available to students it can be a daunting task to keep up with the dynamic world of academic competitions, even for us. We’re continually searching for new competitions, challenges, prizes, and contests for students at all ages, and keeping in touch with programs to get the latest information on their rules and regulations.
This means we’re also regularly updating the database of information to share with you! To help keep you aware of all of these exciting new opportunities, we’re starting to provide regular updates on the new information we gather in the database. To kick things off, here are five academic challenges with updated information in the ICS database and a few new ones we’ve recently been made aware of that are sure to get you excited!
- C-Span Student Cam – this long-standing challenge mixing video and government as recently updated their information for the 2020-21 challenge providing new deadlines to register and submit your videos.
- Conrad Challenge – this entrepreneurial experience for high school students has recently posted new deadlines and information on the 2020-21 challenge.
- Future Problem Solving Program – this leading program in critical thinking and creativity has provided updated details, a new video, and photos of past competitions in their database listing.
- MakeX – this creative design competition is a recent addition to the ICS database. Check out the new program here!
- Modeling the Future Challenge – this math modeling, data-science, and risk analysis competition has added a new introductory video and photos from past competitions to their database listing.
- STEM-X Launch Prize – ever wanted to launch an experiment to space!?!? This new program in the ICS database could be your opportunity!
- WERC Environmental Design Challenge – this college environmental design challenge has updated information on their lower registration fee and other challenge details.
- World Robotics League – love robotics? Here’s a new league that was recently added to the ICS database!
If you want to stay up on all the most recent events and updates in the world of academic competitions, consider upgrading your account to a premium user account. You’ll have access to discounted registration on ICS managed program, premium database features, and much more!
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is the importance of making big decisions. From COVID-19 to an economic crisis to wildfires raging across much of the western US, big things are happening all around us. This isn’t unique to 2020, though it does seem like there are more big things happening at once this year than there have been in the past. To many students, it may seem like these major life events are out of their control; however, being able to navigate tricky situations and make an educated decision on the best course of action is a life skill that will benefit them greatly as they grow into their future careers.
We can’t go back on 2020 and do it over, but we can use these big, risky circumstances as teachable moments with students and empower them to become better decision makers throughout their lives.
One great way to teach risk analysis and the art of making big decisions is the Modeling the Future Challenge. Participants in this challenge work together to come up with their own recommendations on how to solve real-world problems. This has many lasting benefits for the students who decide to take on the challenge. These benefits will help them navigate situations now and into adulthood. Here are a few ways you can use the Modeling the Future Challenge to bring these skills forward for your students!
Show students they can make an impact.
When big problems plague our lives, it is easy for us to feel like there is nothing we can do about it. Allowing students to tackle big problems in a safe environment like the Modeling the Future Challenge, shows them firsthand that with the right tools, some imagination, and teamwork, even kids can solve big problems.
This is the perspective and motivation behind many of humankind’s most outstanding achievements. It is also a skill hard to teach in the classroom. That is why academic competitions are such a valuable addition to a student’s education. They are the perfect setting to push kids to think past their limits and get creative. The 2020-21 Modeling the Future Challenge has an open theme which allows students to identify their own challenge topic for their research project. This freedom of choice is a big driver in helping students take ownership of their project and work towards recommending ways to approach the risks associated with the topic they have selected.
Teach students how to analyze risks.
Every decision we make involves some amount of risk. While some risks are bigger than others, having the skills to determine the level of risk in any situation and determine the possible outcomes is a life skill that students will utilize throughout life. Perhaps a student wants to go to a friend’s birthday party. In today’s world with COVID-19 still a concern, this simple question poses a potential risk. How can someone, especially, a student understand how to analyze that risk? There is always an inherent risk when making any decision, but now there is even more to analyze and think about than ever.
The Modeling the Future Challenge gets down and dirty with data. It pushes students to think about analyzing any situation with a real-world mathematical mindset. Students taking on the Modeling the Future Challenge get enveloped into a world of data science and mathematical modeling that give them tools they can take forward into any situation throughout their life.
Students who participate in The Modeling the Future Challenge will learn the Actuarial Method (much like the scientific process) to weigh risks, big and small. Because this method is learned through hands-on, real-world action, students will internalize the skills they learn and easily use them again and again.
Inspire students to make big decisions.
Navigating risk is a part of our daily lives, but so is decision making. Many times, students make it all the way through school without having to make any big decisions on their own. Then they find themselves away at college where their decisions have real-life ramifications, with no idea how to make the best choice.
Participating in the Modeling the Future Challenge gives students the perfect environment to think for themselves, collaborate with peers, and feel the outcome of their decisions. In addition, allowing students to own their choices and the results is one of the best real-world learning opportunities a student can have. The Modeling the Future Challenge has created the perfect environment for ambitious students to do just that.
Making big decisions is also about confidence. Do you have the confidence in yourself to present to your boss, your teacher, or a whole organization information where there is no single, exactly right answer? That’s what it takes to be in many leadership roles today. Leaders at all levels must be able to confidently present information with their own analysis and make recommendations on how to move forward to tackle a large-scale challenge. This may be the most important skill the Modeling the Future Challenge can help students learn. This confidence doesn’t come from nowhere. It is nurtured by long, hard practice, and the MTFC is a great place to help students start!
The Modeling the Future Challenge is open for registration through November 16th. Don’t miss the opportunity to get engaged in this year’s number one real-world data-science and math-modeling competition!
Learn more about the Modeling the Future Challenge today!
No matter what competition you choose, giving students the opportunity to participate in academic challenges is a great way to enhance their education and teach them the skills they need to navigate whatever comes their way. Interested in the Modeling the Future Challenge and other academic competitions?
Head to our competitions page to see what academic competitions are coming up. You can also set up your account to follow competitions that excite you and stay up to date on all the news with academic competitions.
Upgrade to a premium account so you can track your progress in competitions, get insider information on academic competitions, access the ICS competitions concierge, and gain exclusive discounts on ICS-managed programs.
Have you ever been in a situation where you were unsure of the possible outcomes and still had to make an important decision?
Ever wondered whether to take your phone on an adventure trip or vacation, afraid that you might lose it? Ever questioned how risky it is to fly? Or how worried you should be about sharks when you’re swimming at the beach?
Successfully navigating the path of life requires managing risks of all shapes and sizes. As scary as taking risks may be, they are a crucial part of success. In every career, you will be challenged to make decisions that have some level of risk. Understanding and analyzing those risks can be the key to your success.
Enter the Actuarial Process. Developed by leading actuaries across multiple industries, the Actuarial Process is a tool that leverages your mathematical and scientific knowledge to identify, characterize, and manage risk in any aspect of your life.
Similar to the scientific method, the Actuarial Process provides a framework upon which you can step through how to analyze any risky situation. It is a practical tool to have when it comes time to make the decision of how to manage those risks. If students understand the Actuarial Process, they can leverage what they already know about mathematics and the scientific method, and apply it to data analysis and risk management throughout their lives.
How is the Actuarial Process Similar to The Scientific Method?
If you already understand basic scientific and mathematical concepts in statistics and probability, you will find the Actuarial Process easy to master. Its structure is similar to The Scientific Method, providing an organized flow of how to conduct an analytical project that can be used to make mathematically-sound, real-world recommendations on how to manage risks. The graphic below helps demonstrate the similarities between the two processes.
The scientific method includes:
- Observing a problem and asking questions about it.
- Creating a hypothesis or prediction of what the outcome will be of your experiment.
- Experimenting to test your hypothesis.
- Using the data from your experiment to come to a conclusion.
The steps of the Actuarial Process extend the scientific method into the world of data analysis and risk management, relying more upon statistics and probability than the scientific method highlights; however, the fundamental structures behind both processes are very similar.
The five steps to the Actuarial Process include:
- Defining the project by identifying an area of potential risk.
- Analyzing the data you already have.
- Creating a model to better understand the problem and collect more data.
- Analyzing the risks using the results from the model.
- Making an educated recommendation based on the data
In both cases, students are asking probing questions to guide their actions. They are also testing what they think and trying to prove their point. Finally, in each case, students are making a conclusion based on data. But, the best part of the Actuarial Process that sets it apart is that students get the opportunity to solve real-world problems using hands-on modeling, data science, and risk analysis to help them make real-world, mathematically informed decisions.
Why is the Actuarial Process so important?
The Actuarial Process is a crucial tool student can use to thrive in the real world.
In school and at home, students often have their entire path mapped out for them. They don’t usually have to stop and think about their next move, let alone analyze the risk involved.
When students learn the Actuarial Process, they learn to make big, risky decisions in the smartest way possible. They learn the three major methods to mitigate and manage risks. And they learn how to think critically about any situation, using mathematics to analyze the best solutions. By learning the Actuarial Process, students are setting themselves up for success in college, their career, and life.
It is essential to understand; successful people don’t get that way by avoiding all risks. They become successful by carefully analyzing the risks in front of them and making an educated decision on what to do next.
Where can you use The Actuarial Process?
Risk shows up in all areas of our lives at different and unexpected times. Those that know how to handle these situations when they arise and make educated decisions will thrive and grow into the impactful humans they are destined to be.
While the Actuarial Process can be used in any area of life, one of the best ways to master it is to participate in the Modeling the Future Challenge.
Modeling the Future Challenge
The Modeling the Future Challenge combines real-world math modeling and data science to teach high school students how to manage risks and make mathematically sound decisions. Learn more about the Challenge and the Actuarial Process by downloading the Actuarial Process Guide!
Participants in the Modeling the Future Challenge get the opportunity to solve real problems in the world today. They solve these problems using the science and math skills they already have along with the new skills they learn through the Actuarial Process to find real data and drive their recommendations.
The Modeling the Future Challenge winners walk away with scholarships worth $55,000, but everyone walks away learning patience, determination, and grit. Best of all, students learn the skills to use the Actuarial Process in real-life scenarios to help drive smart decisions throughout their lives.
Additionally, the Modeling the Future Challenge gives students the job skills and experience of working with a team to solve a problem. They will also be presenting their polished ideas to a panel of professionals in their field. This life experience will help them grow academically and professionally. The 2020-21 Modeling the Future Challenge opens registration for teams of high school students on September 14th. You can check out registration information for The Modeling the Future Challenge here.
The Actuarial Process is a life skill that you will fall back on time and time again. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn this incredible tool that will be useful throughout your life.
After its first two years, the race is heating up in crowning the country’s young actuarial champions. Actuaries are at the front lines of major business decisions analyzing data to help project future trends, identify risks and provide recommendations to business leaders about how to best adapt to the expected changes. The Modeling the Future Challenge (MTF) trains high school students in applying their mathematical skills to project future trends and solve real-world problems. However, this challenge is not easy.
Typical math modeling competitions focus on learning how to model systems – what we consider Level 1 modeling competitions. The MTF Challenge takes this two steps further asking students to not only be able to model a system, but to understand how the system will change over time (Level 2), and to understand what that means for people affected by the change and to recommend how they can adapt to it (Level 3).
To be crowned a Modeling the Future Champion, students have to first qualify for the main competition by responding to a set of scenario response topics in the fall semester. Qualified teams are then invited to the main competition in the spring semester where they are matched with an actuary mentor and create their own mathematical model using real-world data to project future change. As the final piece of their project, teams must also present recommendations for how affected organizations should adapt to that change.
In the competition’s first year, 2017-18, 140 students competed on 52 teams to be crowned Modeling the Future Champions. In the 2018-19 challenge that concluded this past April, 873 students competed on 191 teams for the championship. The table below provides a summary of how the results played out each year.
Only being two years into the challenge, it’s hard to identify trends in which schools, or states are standing out in the hunt to crown America’s top young actuarial scholars; however, there are some interesting insights in looking at who made it to the finals these first two years. First of all, California students have led the pack in the sheer number of awards - taking 2nd place and one finalist spot in the first year, and pulling in the top award and another finalist spot in the second year. Not only were these teams from California, but all four of them were from the San Francisco Bay area. This is by far the strongest showing of any metropolitan region in the competition. The next best performing state was Iowa having a 4th place and finalist team finishing each year.
Examining the school level, we can see that there are a few high schools of note. These schools have made an impression in just two years of the competition:
North Carolina School for Science and Mathematics
Even though they did not place in the finals during the second year of the challenge, we cannot discount the ability of the students at this Durham, North Carolina school to take on the actuarial competition and win. Taking first place in the 2017-18 challenge certainly showed their prowess in understanding math modeling and being able to analyze the associated risks from their projections. We look forward to seeing how NCSSM bounces back in the 2019-20 Challenge.
Los Altos High School
Like NCSSM, Los Altos High School students, from Los Altos, California, have demonstrated their ability to come out on top of the actuarial challenge. In the first year of the MTF Challenge in 2018, Los Altos High School was not yet participating in the competition. Could their win in 2019 be the start to a multi-year run for the championship?
This high school from Waukee, Iowa was the only school to have a team reach the finals in both years. Not only did their teams reach the finals, but both years Waukee APEX had a team finish on the podium taking 4th place. Given their strong performance over the first two years of the MTF Challenge, we can certainly expect Waukee APEX to be a contender to look out for in future years.
Maggie Walker Governor’s School
Although they did not place in the finals the first year of the competition, this school from Richmond, Virginia came out strong in the 2018-19 challenge with two out of their eight qualified teams reaching the final competition and both of those teams making it to the podium achieving 2nd and 3rd place respectively. This is a school to keep a keen eye on for the 2019-20 challenge.
The growth in the Modeling the Future Challenge in just its first two years is a testament to the power this competition has to engage and inspire students. “Actuarial Science is a topic that has traditionally been under the radar for students,” said Jason Leppin, executive director of The Actuarial Foundation. “Many students and teachers don’t realize that actuaries use math all the time to help business leaders make some of the most important decisions about the future of their organizations. The Modeling the Future Challenge is our way of demonstrating that math can take you into amazing careers that have a real impact on how we make decisions about the future! And as we can see from our first two years, the students are definitely responding well to the Challenge!”
With two years under the belt, it’s hard to make sweeping statements about which schools are outstanding outliers in actuarial science. Our analysis of the leading schools from the first two years of the challenge doesn’t necessarily mean that these are the schools to beat in next year’s competition. Many schools are still learning about the Modeling the Future Challenge, and the 2019-20 MTF Champions could be from anywhere!
If you are involved with a high school mathematics program and want to learn more about how to participate in the 2019-20 Modeling the Future Challenge, make sure to sign up for the email newsletter here.