Quiz #1: Take-home quiz

Quiz #1 is a take-home quiz which was handed out in class today (if you weren’t in class, or need to print out another copy, you can find the pdf of the quiz under Files.)

Additionally, the dataset for the quiz can be accessed at


The quiz is due at the beginning of class on Wednesday Feb 19 (which is our next class meeting, since the college is closed on Wed Feb 12 and Mon Feb 17).

The quiz is mainly a review of the basic statistics, graphs and spreadsheet commands we have covered so far. Reviewing the spreadsheets we worked on in class may be helpful.


Google Spreadsheet: Blood Cholesterol Example

Here is the Google spreadsheet we created in class yesterday (Mon Feb 3), using the blood cholesterol data from the textbook example (Ross, pp32-34):


We will continue working with this spreadsheet/data in class tomorrow.

Commute Time Project

(You can find a pdf of this Commute Times Project description in Files.)

Project #1: Commute Time Statistics
Due Date: Friday, May 15

For this project, you will collect and analyze data regarding how long it takes you to commute to campus. This project will count as 5% of your course grade.

Data collection: Each time you commute to campus this semester, record how long your commute takes:

  • Set up a spreadsheet with columns for “Date” and “Commute time”; you can also include an optional third column for “Notes.”
  • Each time you commute to campus, make a note of what time you start your commute and what time you arrive (or just use a stopwatch on your phone). Subsequently enter the data in your spreadsheet.
    • If you are using Google Sheets you can record this data immediately if you install the Google Sheets app on your phone. Alternatively, write down the data, and later transfer it to your spreadsheet.
  • Use the optional “Notes” column to record information that may be useful later when you analyze your commute times. E.g., if you use different commute routes you may want to record which route you used; if your commute takes much longer than usual, you may want to record why (subway delay, stops along the way, etc).



Data analysis: At the end of the semester you will:

  • use your spreadsheet to create a frequency table and histogram using your data, and compute the standard summary statistics (mean, median, variance, standard deviation);
  • briefly describe (in 1-2 paragraphs) the distribution and analyze the summary statistics.  Further details (and my example) on how to describe the distribution and analyze the summary statistics will be discussed in class over the course of the semester.

Please set up a spreadsheet now, and start recording your commute times!

“The Aging of America”: Frequency Histograms For US Population Age Distributions

Here are some examples of frequency histograms showing the age distributions of the US population at different times in history (and projected into the future):

  • From the New York Times: “The Aging of America” (Published: February 5, 2011)
  • A similar post appeared on WashingtonPost’s Wonkblog: (published: August 13, 2013), which included this: “This is a mesmerizing little animation created by Bill McBride of Calculated Risk. It shows the distribution of the U.S. population by age over time, starting at 1900 and ending with Census Bureau forecasts between now and 2060.”

What do you notice about how the distributions evolve over time? Click thru to either the CalculatedRisk blog post on which this animation first appeared or to the WashingtonPost link to read some discussion.

Also here is a related set of histograms that were featured in the NYT Business section in May 2014, as part of an article titled “Younger Turn for a Graying Nation“:


That was an installment of a weekly column in the NYT Business section titled “Off the Charts,” which discussed a graph and the underlying data.

List of Spreadsheet Functions/Techniques

We will use the comments to this post to keep track of the various spreadsheet functions and techniques we will use in class during the semester.

You will be asked to post a comment briefly summarizing a spreadsheet function or technique at sometime during the semester (which will earn you a point towards your course participation grade).

You should post the given spreadsheet function or technique, and give a short summary and/or example of what it does; this can be copied directly (or preferably adapted) from the built-in spreadsheet documentation (see my first comment below for an example).

Google Spreadsheet: Class Age Data

Here is the link to the Google spreadsheet we created during our first class session on Monday, containing the class age data we collected:

Class Age Data – 27 Jan 2020

Note that you can only view the spreadsheet via the link, but if you have a Google account, you can save a copy to your Google Drive (“File->Make a Copy”) and then edit your copy.

We will continue working on this spreadsheet this week.  But in the meantime you should familiarize yourself with the basic spreadsheet functions and techniques (e.g., copying and pasting formulas) that we introduced in this spreadsheet.

First OpenLab Assignment – Introduce Yourself

Your first OpenLab assignments are to

  1. join the course group, and
  2. introduce yourself to your classmates (see below).

This assignment is due Monday, February 3.  Each of these assignment will earn you one point towards the participation component of your course grade. Late submissions will receive partial credit.

Assignment. Write a comment in reply to this post (scroll to the bottom to find the “Leave a Reply” box–if you’re viewing this from the site’s homepage, you will need to click on the post’s title above, or click on the Comments link to the left):

In a brief paragraph (3-5 sentences), introduce yourself in whatever way you wish (what do you want your classmates to know about you?  Some ideas: where you’re from, where you live now, your major, your interests outside of school, etc.)