their explanations were more likely to reference empirical evidence.
Additional discussions of how HHMI resources were used in the unit
can be found in Cooper (2016) and in Lucci and Cooper (2019).
Scientists use statistics like those illustrated here to organize
and analyze data so that they can make inferences from the dataset
and use it as evidence (AAAS, 2011; NGSS Lead States, 2013;
College Board, 2019). Understanding how scientists use statistics
is an important component of biological literacy, and students
should have opportunities to use statistical methods like this in
their science classes.
I thank Brad Williamson, who pointed out the significance of the
“lady tasting tea” story, which inspired me to write this paper,
and Sydney Bergman, who read an early draft and provided valuable feedback. Disclaimer: I have received support from HHMI to
present professional development workshops for educators featuring the use of HHMI BioInteractive resources. This publication
was prepared and submitted independent of any HHMI support.
AAAS (2011). Vision and Change: A Call to Action. Washington, DC:
American Association for the Advancement of Science.
College Board (2019). AP Biology Course and Exam Description, rev. ed.
New York, NY: College Board.
Cooper, R. (2016, April 26). Need help teaching natural selection? Try this!
[Web log post]. http://ncse.com/blog/2016/04/need-help-teaching-
Fisher, R.A. (1971). The Design of Experiments, 8th ed. (reprint). New York,
Gorroochurn, P. (2012). Classic Problems of Probability. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
HHMI BioInteractive (2014). Evolution in action: data analysis: finches
dataset [Excel worksheet]. https://www.biointeractive.org/classroom-resources/evolution-action-data-analysis.
HHMI BioInteractive (2017). Sampling and normal distribution [interactive].
Lucci, K. & Cooper, R.A. (2019). Using the I2 strategy to help students think like
biologists about natural selection. American Biology Teacher, 81, 88–95.
McDonald, J.H. (2014). Handbook of Biological Statistics, 3rd ed. Baltimore,
MD: Sparky House. http://www.biostathandbook.com/
Moore, D.S., McCabe, G.P. & Craig, B.A. (2009). Introduction to the Practice
of Statistics, 6th ed. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman.
NGSS Lead States (2013). Next Generation Science Standards: For States, by
States. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Salsburg, D. (2001). The Lady Tasting Tea: How Statistics Revolutionized
Science in the Twentieth Century. New York, NY: Holt.
Wild, C. (2006). The concept of distribution. Statistics Education Research
Journal, 5(2), 10–26.
ROBERT A. COOPER recently retired from Pennsbury High School, Fairless
Hills, PA 19030, where he taught biology (general, honors, and AP); e-mail: