Classroom Workshops

The workshops below have been prepared and used by PSI to provide practical examples of applying statistics to medical research. They can all be run in a classroom and are targeted at Key Stage (KS) 3 students and above (but could be adapted for younger students). They illustrate key statistical issues that need to be considered in the development of new medicines.

A summary of each activity is given below. Full instructions plus worksheets and other paper materials can be downloaded by clicking on the icon.

Workshop 1

KS3 Workshops (Ages 11-14)

Smarties workshop

Objectives: Pupils will learn how to collect and collate their own data and will explore statistical and practical considerations which arise in designing experiments.

Run time: 30 min (30 min prep)
Equipment required: Smarties, calculators and a black/white board or flip chart for collating results


KS4 Workshops (Ages 14-16)

Alzheimer's Disease workshop

Objectives: To give an interactive example of how statistics can be used to test relationships between categorical variables and introduce the placebo effect and the importance of blinding a trial (concealing treatment allocation).

Run time: 45 min (20 min prep)

Equipment required:

  • Two music videos (to act as a distraction)
  • Stickers or sweets (half red, half blue) to act as treatment assignment
  • Ear plugs (optional)
  • A laptop and projector for slides and to show calculations in Excel


Asthma workshop

Objectives : To introduce the students to analysis of continuous data and make them think about concealing treatment assignment and consider false positive and false negative results.

Run time: 45 min (10 min prep) 

Equipment required:

  • Online t-test tool Click here
  • Peak flow meters or balloons and measuring tape
  • Dice or coin
  • A laptop and projector for slides


NICE workshop

Objectives: To introduce the students to National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and make them think about the decisions that go into putting new drugs on the market. Groups need to decide which drug out of three they would choose to make available for use in the UK.

Run time: 45 min (10 min prep)
Equipment: A laptop and projector for slides


Helicopter workshop

Objectives: To introduce fractional factorial design and give the opportunity to collect data, explore statistical considerations in experimental design and, in the extended version, compare various graphical summaries and interpretations of the data.

Run time: 45 min (40 min prep)
Equipment required: paperclips, stopwatch , scissors and labelled envelopes to hold pack 1 and 2 materials separately.


KS4+ Workshops (Ages 16+ )

Headaches workshop

Objectives: To introduce 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. Advanced students can cover analysing results using a Chi Square test.

Run time: 45 min (15 min prep)


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