*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.
Is there a correlation between birth order and grade point average? Design a survey study to find out. How many completed surveys do you need for a representative sample of your school? If you limit your survey to one school, would you expect it to be representative of a larger population (such as your county or state?) How do you control for potential effects of parental age at birth? (In other words, younger siblings will have a higher probability of being born to older parents. If there is an apparent correlation between birth order and grade point average, can you distinguish the variable "birth order" from the variable "parental age at birth"?) Can you think of any other potentially confounding variables? This project involves fairly sophisticated statistical analysis. Finding a mentor with expertise in multivariate statistical analysis is highly recommended. (Simpson and Yandell, 2003)
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If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
Any time there is more than one person in a room, there is potential for a social interaction to occur or for a group to form. Sociologists study these interactions—how and why groups and societies form, and how outside events like health issues, technology, and crime affect both the societies and the individuals. If you already like to think about how people interact as individuals and in groups, then you're thinking like a sociologist!
Why people take certain actions can often feel like a mystery. Psychologists help solve these mysteries by investigating the physical, cognitive, emotional, or social aspects of human behavior and the human mind. Some psychologists also apply these findings in order to design better products or to help people change their behaviors.
Statisticians use the power of math and probability theory to answer questions that affect the lives of millions of people. They tell educators which teaching method works best, tell policy-makers what levels of pesticides are acceptable in fresh fruit, tell doctors which treatment works best, and tell builders which type of paint is the most durable. They are employed in virtually every type of industry imaginable, from engineering, manufacturing, and medicine to animal science, food production, transportation, and education. Everybody needs a statistician!
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