TAMU Releases Stat-Crunchers

Stat-Crunchers™ - New Online Game to Teach Statistics The Epic Software Group developed for Texas A&M University a new multimedia program that provides students with a dynamic and interactive way to learn statistics.

The Woodlands, TX - September 28, 2008 - For anyone who has labored through a college statistics course and thought, "How am I ever going to learn this stuff?" help is on the way! Stat-Crunchers™, an interactive multimedia online program, was commissioned by the statistics department at Texas A&M University with the goal of making statistics education fun. It is the brainchild of Dr. Alan Dabney, Assistant Professor of Statistics, who said, "Formulas and jargon can scare off the math-averse, and even math nerds can struggle with the peculiar concepts of statistics. Stat-Crunchers was designed to help change the way we teach statistics."

The interactive application was developed by the epic software group, a multimedia company based in The Woodlands, Texas.

The epic production team filmed Dr. Dabney in high-definition for the video introduction to Stat-Crunchers. The artists, animators and programmers at epic added a number of special effects to the video that instantly tell you, "This is not your typical statistics course." By watching the animation, the student is introduced to the concepts typically covered in a first lesson college-level statistics course but in a very unconventional way. The method is through storytelling, one of the oldest means of transferring knowledge and wisdom. The students enter an animated, interactive world that engages them in statistics, making it fun and entertaining. The story line takes place on the Texas A&M University campus where we meet a group of college students and SIGMA (a futuristic PDA-robot) who join forces to learn statistics, get a date for Friday night, and have fun in the process.

Animation, music and sound effects, help deliver the information. In about the same time it takes to get through a chapter in a text book, the student can work through an episode. To ensure the student has learned the course material, each Stat-Cruncher's installment ends with an interactive video game designed to demonstrate what they have learned. Along with the video game is an interactive quiz to insure the student truly understands the concepts presented. Future lessons are now in the planning stage and will cover topics such as sampling, probability, uncertainty and estimation.

Dr. Simon Sheather, the Head of the Statistics Department at Texas A&M, recognizes that the Stat-Crunchers approach is a unique way to teach statistics. "A&M is dedicated to finding innovative ways to deliver course materials, and we believe the time is right to test this new concept. The growth in distance learning at colleges around the country is expanding rapidly. The university is positioning itself to serve the needs of its students and teachers looking for innovative ways to present this coursework" said Dr. Sheather. The department hopes that Stat-Crunchers will also serve to attract high school students taking AP Statistics classes to Texas A&M University. "The program may get some students to take a serious look at our statistics department. When they do, they will find a number of renowned professors and exciting programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels," continued Dr. Sheather.

The Epic Software Group, a 3D animation and multimedia development company located in The Woodlands, TX, was selected as the developer for the Stat-Crunchers project because of its experience and relation to the target audience. Epic also runs a summer internship program and this year it has five talented college-age students helping on all phases of the production work. The team at Epic Software is using Stat-Crunchers to test a number of cutting edge technologies designed to allow students to interact with their course materials."Included on the web site is a questionnaire that we hope all visitors will take a couple of minutes to complete. This will give us the feedback needed to make future episodes of Stat-Crunchers even better" said Vic Cherubini, the president of the Epic Software Group.

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