Are you a “modal” student?

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Here is a description of the typical or modal male student who took part in Canada’s Census at School in a recent year.

He is 13 years old and 162 cm tall, his right foot measures 25 cm and he has a dog. He lives in a household consisting of four people and has brown eyes. He has access to a computer and Internet at home. His favourite sport to play is hockey. He looks up to a sportsperson and usually walks to school.

However, if you looked at the dataset of the survey results for all of Canada, there would be no such student.

Now, let’s look at the typical or modal female student who took part in Canada’s Census at School in a recent year:

Girl in-front of a sheet of paper, holding a big pencilShe is also 13 years old. She measures 159 cm tall, her right foot measures 23 cm and she looks up to a relative. She likes grain products for breakfast. Her favourite subject at school is Physical Education and her favourite sport is swimming. She spends 26 minutes on the bus each morning to get to school.

However, once again, there is no student who fits this description in the Canadian dataset.

Try to explain why these two students do not exist.

Adapted with permission from CensusAtSchool – U.K. and contributed by Angela McCanny,Census at school resource teacher, Ottawa, Ontario.

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