Scientific Program > Topic 11 >
Poster 11-24 On the Uses of Error

S. E. Piper (South Africa)


Poster Abstract
Few students understand the concept of measurement errors and many even equate error with sin! A linear measuring device was constructed and given to students to measure 20 brass cylinders. Using measurements accurate to the nearest whole mm they were introduced to the uniform distribution. Using measurements interpolated to 0.1 mm they were introduced to the normal distribution where the mean is their personal bias and the variance their measurement variance. Students sometimes made blunders and these were used to introduce them to the Poisson distribution. Comparison of measurements between pairs of students were used to introduce Student's t-tests and F-ratio tests and between 3+ students to ANOVA and tests of homogeneity of variance. This device has been successfully used with students in Surveying & Mapping, Psychology and Life Sciences and succeeds because it is based on their personal experience and allows them to sequentially build their knowledge and understanding.


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