In order to learn about standard deviation, students were given a variety of beans of different lengths. Sample data sets included the same type of beans of different lengths, as well as a mixture of beans of different lengths. Students measured the lengths of green beans and determined the mean, median and mode, and then discovered the standard deviation and variance. Students worked in teams to accomplish this task, but then showed what they knew independently.
"The most enjoyable part of this activity was being able to measure tangible items instead of having a pre-made data set, allowing us to understand the full process of calculating the standard deviation.The most important thing I learned was to go over all of the collected data with my team afterward to prevent mistakes in the calculations. The most difficult part of the Bean Activity would be making sure that everyone had the same data and came to a consensus with each calculation before moving on." - Elle
"My favorite part of the activity was learning hands-on by doing an actual experiment to learn how standard deviation works. I liked learning this way because I had more fun doing the work, therefore I remembered it better. The most important thing I learned was that 67% of the data falls within the first standard deviation. I found that the calculating of the standard deviation was the most challenging part for me because I had never learned it before in my life and therefore was very confused throughout most of the activity." - Ella
"It was very visual to see how standard deviation works. Without us telling them about what standard deviation is, the students were able to develop their own understanding. The moved the concrete to pictorial to the abstract, an essential part of mathematical thinking." - Hank Classen and Misti McDaniel