He came across the idea during a summer institute led by Penny Smeltzer, an AP teacher at Westwood High School in Austin, Texas.
“Data analysis alone is not very interesting, especially to high school students,” Smeltzer explains. “Creating lessons with enjoyable context helps the numbers come to life, makes the statistical concepts memorable, and brings smiles and laughter into the classroom.”
She was first introduced to the Fatal Vision® goggles while undergoing character education training led by a local police officer. She had the bright idea to use the goggles to make learning statistics more fun. So she set her students to learn how much of a difference the goggles made in completing routine intoxicated-driver tests. The unique combo was a hit and Smeltzer has continued to use it.
“My students perform the walk-and-turn test given to suspected drunk drivers both with and without the goggles,” she says. “We use the collected data to create confidence intervals and hypothesis tests. The lesson also inspires great discussions about the hazards of driving under the influence.”
Why not give it a try with my students? Hanchett thought. As a teacher of AP statistics and math, he was always searching for new ideas to make his subjects come alive for students. The only problem he had was that the school had no goggles.
“The product is reasonably priced,” he says, “but a stretch for individual classrooms.”
So, using more innovative thinking, Hanchett applied for and received a grant from the Spring Independent School District Education Foundation. With that generous grant he was able to purchase twelve pairs of the Fatal Vision® goggles for each of three schools to use with students. And he began to use them in his AP statistics classes.
Like Smeltzer, Hanchett has his students walk-and-turn both with and without the goggles, collecting data as they go. Then students crunch the numbers to make sure the difference between the two is statistically significant.
“We do look at the math behind this,” he explains. “And it’s always statistically significant.”
1. Students are able to collect data.
2. Students participate in an interesting and engaging activity while doing so.
3. Students are receptive to the useful and subtle message that drinking and driving don’t mix.
And what about that message? “It doesn’t hit you over the he ad,” he says. “They love it.”
In the three years he’s been using the goggles, Hanchett says students are always eager to get to that unit. He’s had so much success, in fact, that he has also used it in his Algebra I and II classes. Algebra students collect the data and create histogram representations of the data.
But why stop innovating? Hanchett began to brainstorm the possibilities of using Distract-A-Match® in the classroom, too. And, as with the Fatal Vision® goggles, he started in his AP statistics class. “I use it to introduce the statistics course,” he says.
Students attempt to complete the Distract-A-Match® challenge three times. The first time, students either learn the rules or make them up to create consistency. The second time, Hanchett asks students to recite or sing the alphabet—a fairly rote activity—and track their mistakes. The third time, students try to text the game’s suggested simple message while playing. After collecting the data, students create separate histograms then describe the center shape and spread.
Hanchett says the students always start out thinking they can do it and end up proving through the activity that talking and texting while driving really is distracting. “Again, you’re getting that subtle message across,” he says. “And they get to use their phones in class!”
Hanchett has found these innovative activities so useful in his classroom that he’s exported the idea to other schools. Hanchett presented the idea at the Teachers Teaching with Technology regional conference held in Houston (January 2013), the November Science Teachers Association of Texas Conference, and the University of Houston – Techie Teachers of Today and Tomorrow (January 2014). He discovered that teachers plan to incorporate it into their own classrooms by using Fatal Vision® goggles from their local police departments.
Smeltzer is also busy spreading the word about innovating classroom curriculum with Innocorp products. “This popular lab is also a hit during my workshops with teachers from Las Vegas to Texas to Florida to overseas,” she says. In fact, she recently spoke about it in Hong Kong.