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Exploring Fundamental Definitions with a Study of Fingerprint Types in the US

In this lesson by Katina Gothard and Megan Mocko, students will randomly sample beads out of a bin to simulate random samples of people’s fingerprints. Students will see that the sample proportion of fingerprints with arches (one of the three common fingerprint patterns) varies from sample to sample. The purpose is to guide students in the development of, and identify any misconceptions about, the definitions of population, parameter, sample, statistic and random.

After drawing simple random samples, students will calculate sample proportions; construct dotplots; and identify a population, parameter, sample, and statistic. By the end of the activity, students will be able to define these terms and describe what random means in the context of sampling.

Download Lesson Plan (PDF).
Download Lesson Plan (Word).

Additional Materials

Teacher version of the handout (with solutions)
Student version of the handout (blank)
Instructions about paddles and beads
Instructions for 3D printing paddles (100 hole) (20 hole) (40 hole)