The Royal Statistical Society Schools’ Lecture is aimed at sixth form and GCSE students, drawing out the importance and widespread applicability of statistics in a serious but accessible and entertaining way.
The Lecture is held at Kingston annually and for 2011 it was given on the 2 November by Dr Paul Baxter, University of Leeds. The event was attended by Faculty of Science, Engineering & Computing staff and around 125 pupils from nine local schools and colleges. Kingston University is one of just a few venues in the South East where it is held, although it is repeated at many locations throughout the UK each year.
Dr Paul Baxter gave a fascinating and well received talk entitled “Are Large Databases Good for Your Health?” in which he described various applications of statistics in medicine and biology. Focusing on “epidemiological” studies ranging from Richard Doll’s pioneering work in the 1950s on the relationship between smoking and lung cancer to more recent studies on heart attacks in the UK, he illustrated how methods such as “data linkage” could be used to “repair holes” in datasets due to incomplete records. Making use of participation by the audience and an example relating to the goals scored by players from different football clubs during the 1990 FIFA World Cup, he succeeded in giving a lecture which was simultaneously informative, accessible to A-Level students and highly entertaining.