Introduction

These workshops have been prepared by PSI (Statisticians in the Pharmaceutical Industry) to provide a practical example of applying statistics that can be used in the classroom with students at GCSE/A level. It illustrates some of the statistical considerations that are considered in the development of new medicines.

Smarties workshop

Purpose: Workshop exploring statistical issues in clinical trials
Target audience: GCSE students
Preparation time:
15-30 min
Run time: 
Approximately 30 minutes to run one session, but could be expanded depending on the amount of discussion.
Equipment required: Smarties, calculators and a black/white board or flip chart for collating results.
Key topics: Introducing clinical trials, The role of a Statistician, Gathering data, Collating results, Percentages, Interpreting results
Objectives:

  • Students will be introduced to the Pharmaceutical Industry and the role of statisticians in the industry.
  • Students will learn about the concept of a clinical trial and what statisticians do in a clinical trial.
  • Students will participate in the collection and collation of data.
  • Students will be made to think about the possible statistical and practical considerations that arise in experimental design.
A zip file containing PowerPoint slides and teachers notes can be found here.

Helicopter workshop

Purpose: Workshop exploring statistical issues in clinical trials
Target audience: GCSE and A-level maths/statistics students.
Preparation time:
45-60 min
Run time: 
The less advanced workshop takes approximately 45 minutes to complete, while the more advanced one takes approximately 60 minutes.
Equipment required: 

  • Helicopter templates (5 with a wing width of 40 and 5 with a wing width of 60 per group, per pack)
  • Paperclips (2 per group)
  • Stopwatch (1 per group)
  • Scissors (2 or 3 pairs per group)
  • Professional memo print out (1 per group)
  • Pack 1 results sheet (1 per group)
  • Pack 2 results sheet (1 per group)
  • ‘Making the paper helicopters’ print out (1 per group)
  • Envelopes or plastic wallets which will hold pack 1 and pack 2 materials separately. These should be clearly labelled as ‘Pack 1’ or ‘Pack 2’.

Key topics: Experimental design, including fractional factorial designs
Objectives:

  • Students will be introduced to the Pharmaceutical Industry and the role of statisticians in the industry.
  • Students will work as a group to run an experiment and collect data.
  • Students will be made to think about the possible statistical and practical considerations that arise in experiment design.
  • Students will be introduced to the idea of fractional factorial design.
  • Advanced workshop only: Students will be shown various graphical summaries and interpretations.

A zip file containing PowerPoint slides, teachers notes, templates, instructions and results sheets can be found here.

Headaches Workshop

Purpose: Workshop exploring statistical issues in clinical trials
Target audience: A-level maths/statistics students
Preparation time:
15-30 min
Run time: 
Approximately 45-60mins to run in one session, but could easily be split across two shorter sessions if desired, breaking after the completion of part 1.
Equipment required:  Dice and coins, plus the worksheets that are provided in this package. A black/white board or flip chart for collating results would also be useful.
Key topics: Gathering Data, Collating results, Regression to the mean, randomisation, bias and experimental design
Objectives:

  • Students will participate in the collection and collating of data
  • Students will be introduced to the concept of ‘Regression to the Mean’ along with some good principles of clinical trial design such as the use of controls and avoidance of bias
  • Students will gain an initial understanding of how statistics is used to evaluate the results of clinical trials (comparing proportions, and for advanced students using a Chi Square test).

A zip file containing PowerPoint slides and teachers notes can be found here.

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