Using Desmos for Statistics Webinar: A Review

Helen GerrardBeing an existing fan of the free online graphing software Desmos, I jumped at the opportunity to attend the third Mathematics Teacher Training Scholarships webinar ‘Using Desmos for Statistics’, run by Natalie Vernon, the A Level Maths Professional Development Coordinator for MEI. 

I was first introduced to the graph drawing functionality of Desmos during my Subject Knowledge Enhancement course, and since then I have regularly used it both to aid my own mathematical study and when teaching graph related topics, including transformations. However, I had no idea how to use Desmos for statistics and was keen to learn more! 

The webinar was excellent! Natalie had prepared a class for us to join and activities to complete on Desmos, so the session was interactive. This allowed us to gain first-hand experience using Desmos as a pupil would. Natalie was very enthusiastic and engaging and welcomed questions. Each task was explained before we had a go, and there were also hints and answers provided to help us as we went along. 

We first learned how to use the graphing calculator to find common statistical values, such as mean and median, and how to display this visually as a box plot, dot plot or histogram. Being able to display multiple box plots at once is brilliant as it enables comparisons to be drawn easily! We then introduced sliders to demonstrate the impact of changing a value in the data set on the mean and median. These tools can be used in the classroom to encourage discussion and deepen pupils’ understanding of the data sets they are working with. 

We then moved on to using the random tool to demonstrate probability by exploring the scenario of rolling an unbiased 6-sided dice 10, 100 and 1000 times. We learned that visualising each random sample as a histogram demonstrates to pupils how increasing the sample size brings the probability of each outcome closer to the theoretical value of 1/6. 

Natalie then explained how to set up our own classes on Desmos and introduced us to the vast array of high-quality activities already available for us to use. These activities can even be adapted and saved! 

Desmos is clearly a really valuable free resource that allows everyone to access a scientific and graphing calculator at home! This webinar was a brilliant introduction to its application in teaching statistics and has motivated me to learn more about how I can utilise Desmos in the classroom. I am looking forward to the ‘Teaching with Desmos’ series being ran by Natalie via the Advanced Mathematics Support Programme. 
I would like to say a huge thank you to Vanessa and the Scholarship Team for organising this CPD webinar and would highly recommend this to all future Scholars!

By Helen Gerrard


Message from the Scholarship Team - You can apply to the Scholarships with a 2:2 degree classification, providing you can demonstrate 'significant relevant experience'. Also you can apply before completing your subject knowledge enhancement course. See our eligibility criteria on our About Us page and our FAQs.