(1) Educational website (ALEA)
Portugal launched its educational website ALEA in 1999. Its aim is to provide useful tools to help understand, use and teach statistics. Since then it has populated the site with seven online games, including a Portuguese version of INEcity (originally created by INE Spain), a statistical trivia quiz and the “Glory game”.
The physical Exploristica exhibition
When it comes to more tangible statistical literacy products, Portugal’s Exploristica is at the forefront. This is a travelling exploratory exhibition designed to teach statistics and improve the general standard of statistical literacy among young people. At the same time, Exploristica aims to promote the availability and appropriate use of official statistics. To deepen this understanding, the exhibition offers six interactive modules, inspired in an adventure and related to one phase of the statistical process: selection of data; collection of data; describing of data; data estimation and/or interpretation. The target group are teachers and students of upper basic and secondary school (12 to 18 years old). Players learn about different types of data, location and dispersion measures (mean, median, standard deviation), graphs (box and whiskers, bar plots, histograms), random and non-random sampling, relative frequency, and probability.
The Exploristica virtual Submarine game
Under DIGICOM the physical game Exploristica was further developed into a virtual game.
Its flagship component is the “Virtual Submarine”, where participants embark on a journey through an underwater ecosystem where they need to collect a sample of a new reptile species. Students sit in a chair, wear VR goggles and hold hand controls. That way, players feel as if they are sitting in the cockpit of a submarine and able to have a 360º view.
Based on the fact that there are three different subspecies of the reptile, which are distinguished in weight, age and size, participants produce boxplots of these variables for the sample data. By then comparing it with the population data, they can identify the subspecies that have been collected and release them into the wild again. For this, the player starts an underwater exploration of a lake in a small submarine, and catch specimen (one at a time) with a claw at the front of the submarine. Participants weigh, measure, and identify the sex and age of each specimen they capture (and then return it to water). After this collection, an explanation is presented on how to draw a diagram of extremes and quartiles.
In statistical terms, the goals of the game are twofold: first, Statistics Portugal aims to bring innovative techniques to explain dispersion measures to actual teaching locations. Second, players are familiarized with statistical likelihoods by using boxplots. Boxplots are an excellent way to analyse distributions because they allow us to compare corresponding percentiles. There are two versions of this Virtual Submarine. One, requires a headset with virtual reality glasses and a reasonable computer with a good graphics card. The other version, aiming at reaching an even wider audience, requires an app and a mobile phone. For this one more affordable VR goggles can be used, lowering the geographical and economic barrier to play the game. That way, schools can easily use the game in their classrooms and allow their students to be immersed in a world of exploration and statistics.