Statistics in AP Biology

We’re getting into the statistics potion of the class in AP Biology. Last week I taught the students how to do a chi square test on M&Ms, and this week we’re going to work more on using chi square tests to evaluate whether Punnett squares accurately predict the outcomes of genetic crosses. Many of my students don’t see the need for statistics. Either the data match what you expected or they don’t. They’ve never had to do any statistics before in other classes, and we don’t offer statistics as a math class.

In addition to more chi square practice, I also intend to have the students analyze their data from the onion root lab using by calculating means and standard errors. Last week we grew onions in various concentrations of caffeine and measured the length and number of roots each day. I had the students input their data to a Google spreadsheet so they can analyze the whole class’s data this week. I hope that they will see the need for statistics when they see the variation in data from one group to the next.

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