Hardwicke, who has been with the school for nine years, says making statistics engaging for students has been all about approaching the right research topics.

“We wanted to bring that humanity aspect to this competition,” Hardwicke explains of the school’s approach.

“So rather than telling the kids that we want to test a brand of toothpaste … we put it out there as ‘what are some big problems in our community that we can address through gathering and analysing data?’”

This led quickly into a brainstorm session.

“The kids looked at big things in the community they saw as real issues, the quality of our waterways in the ACT, supermarkets not stocking a high percentage of local products…” he says.

After outlining these issues, students considered how they could collect and display data in an accessible way. This also led the class to think about who they wanted to target with their information.

“Who would be the people within society who could actually bring about and impart change? 

“The next step was following the ACT government elections, to actually be able to forward through findings from our local area to government, so they can be taken on board…”

For students researching water quality, they took their research even further.

“Within our classroom we’ve got parents that work at the Australian National University, and specialise in Malaria studies ... they’ve got access to labs [where there] are experts in analysing water particles, so they collected samples and gave it to them…”

The class has also entered their projects into the Statistics Society of Australia’s Poster Competition.