# StatCrunch Contest: Open a new world of data-driven decisions

StatCrunch. It sounds like a great name for a breakfast cereal for math nerds, but it’s a powerful piece of statistical software. So if it’s a tool to help you complete stats class homework, why would you want to enter a contest using it?

If you’re wondering why it would be worth the time and effort, let’s first take a look at what attributes today’s employers are looking for as well as current goals in statistics education. In surveys of top employers–Fortune 500 companies–over the last few years, there have been some consistent responses. Employers want employees who:

• Are able to think critically
• Able to manipulate and interpret data and results
• Able to communicate effectively (both orally and in writing)
• Collaborate well with peers

Recommendations from the American Statistical Association for introductory statistics students include things like:

• Teaching & learning should have a focus on conceptual understanding.
• Students should be working with real data–knowing context & purpose.
• The use of projects is encouraged to create active learning opportunities.
• The use of technology is essential to explore concepts and analyze data.

You’ll see these two sets of characteristics have some similarities.  You can use StatCrunch to explore the concepts of statistics.You can manipulate and interpret results. You can work with peers in the classroom or on your homework, and begin to learn to communicate your ideas. Do you like football? Starbucks? Crime statistics? You can find datasets about all sorts of topics.

StatCrunch is not just a tool to help you successfully complete your Intro to Statistics course; it’s the opening to a new world where decisions are made not just on a whim but with data-driven criteria. It’s a venue where you can explore the differences between types of testing or the effects of changing a confidence level or reducing the size of a sample. It’s where you will learn that math really is a part of your everyday world.

So stand aside, Spock, there’s a new generation of data lovers coming. Let’s start by checking out what they can do with this contest! Contest is open February 1st to April 1st.