Indiana State University Newsroom

ISU students teach stats to DeVaney class

May 4, 2012

Braxton Shelton's face lit up at the sight of her father walking into her third-grade classroom - along with three Indiana State University students.

Shelton and her classmates, taught by Kathy Spelman at Adelaide DeVaney Elementary School, welcomed the presence of Indiana State U students, their professor Ken Jones and Terre Haute Rex general manager, Roland Shelton.

Elizabeth Browning, Brianna Supulski and Steve Landwer are among a group of 11 students from Jones' class that visited DeVaney last week to teach statistics related math concepts to the students.

"It was so much fun and so cool to learn statistics and it was fun to work with the college students and do Rex activities," Braxton said.

Jones, instructor of marketing and operations management, teaches the business statistics class that brought Browning, Supulski and Landwer to DeVaney Elementary.

The idea for the project stemmed from a conversation with Jones and Shelton. The Terre Haute Rex became involved as the students used baseball as the context to teach probability and percentage statistics to the third grade class.

Throughout the semester the ISU students worked to determine how to best share their knowledge of statistics, particularly probability, with a younger audience.

"At the end of the day, I try not to prescribe the project solution," Jones said. "I gave the groups general guidance in order to come up with activities that third graders would have fun with and understand." Supulski, Landwer and Browning agree that incorporating baseball into their project was not easy.

"We knew what we had to teach and having to find a way to add baseball into the lesson made it even more of an exciting challenge," said Browning, a sophomore business education major.

In order to make the connection to baseball, the group had the children sing the song "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" while one of their classmate's did the dizzy bat activity that happens during Rex games.

The ISU students modeled the dizzy bat game to fit their needs by asking a member of the class to stand in the middle of a parachute that was laid out on the floor. The student stood the bat on its end, put their head on it and spun around while classmates sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

When the song was over, the dizzy student landed in a section of the parachute and the other students were asked to determine probabilities based on the number and color of sections of the parachute.

"I really liked when they were talking about baseball and the Rex games," said Jayson Cottrell, a student in Spelman's class.

Spelman also noted that learning statistics is part of the Indiana Department of Education standards for third grade so the ISU students teaching the class needed to be aware of the standards.

"Reviewing the Indiana Department of Education standards actually helped us in designing the structure of the project," said Supulski, a sophomore business marketing major. "We split the requirements among three separate groups to focus in on. My group's section was probability."

Each group brought a new perspective and taught different topics but built off of each other, Spelman said. They started with the language involved with statistics and then moved to hands-on activities.

"I think working with the Rex organization was a great idea because it helps bring different organizations together as well as making it interesting for the children," said Landwer, a junior operations and supply chain management major.

This is not the first time that Jones and his students have worked with the Terre Haute Rex. A previous business statistics class did a project analyzing attendance data for the Rex.

In another one of Jones' classes this semester, Intro to Operations Management, three teams of students are analyzing and recommending operational improvements to seating, parking, concessions and ticketing systems at Rex games.

The Terre Haute Rex receives a lot of community support from Terre Haute, and this activity was for them to do community outreach and show appreciation for that support, Jones said.

Photo: (ISU/Austin Arceo)Roland Shelton, general manager of the Terre Haute Rex, talks with students at DeVaney Elementary. The Rex and students in an ISU operations management course taught statistics-related math concepts to a class of DeVaney students.

Contact: Mark Edwards, marketing manager, Terre Haute Rex, 812-243-2897 or

Writer: Alexa Larkin, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University.