Statistics Activities: Firefighting

Is it safe to jump? (Appropriate for all ages)

The fire station needs to buy a new net to catch people jumping out of burning buildings. Nets come in many different sizes and the Chief isn’t sure which size to buy. The bigger the net, the less likely it is that a jumper will miss, but the greater the number of firefighters needed to hold it. That means fewer people fighting the fire. The Chief wants to buy the smallest net that will be safe. He also realizes that having the correct net isn’t enough.  He will need to figure out where the catchers should stand. The Chief elicits help doing an experiment so he can make the best choices.

Visitors will drop miniature dummies out of a mock building to determine the size and location of the landing zone. They will use statistics to predict the size of the net required and the best net placement. Visitors will be able to compare their own data from five trials to the data collected throughout the course of the day, to learn about the impact of sample size on statistical predictions.