Free scripts to put on your site, plus statistics rant

I got this in the emails today; www.helpingwithmath.com has worksheets and explanations, but above all, you can DOWNLOAD and freely put on your own website (or just on your home computer) all their games, fraction calculator, charts, and worksheets and stuff.

On a personal note, I've been diligently working on 6th grade worksheets for a tutoring company. But, I'm also going to make a book to sell with the material, and fairly soon too.

So lately I've been just burying myself under statistics and playing with Excel, making charts and graphs and pictures for those worksheets. They're made with Virginia state standards as guidelines, and you know, on 6th grade, the students are supposed to study box-and-whisker plots and stem-and-leaf plots, among the usual stuff such as bar graphs and circle graphs.

My husband didn't even know what those were. I first encountered them during my university studies, as I took statistics as a minor. And I really enjoyed studying it, by the way. It was fascinating to see the power of mathematical methods in the statistical analysis.

I still enjoy statistics. But knowing something about it makes me wonder, what are 6th graders able to learn about all these things? Boxplots, stemplots - are they understanding how to interpret them, read the differences between data sets by looking at the boxplots?

Mean, median, mode, range? Can a 6th grader understand much about mean and media, besides being able to calculate them? (Such as, which is better to use when?) It seems to me they are bound to stay as just numbers without much meaning.

As you probably realize, statistics and data analysis used to be taught on much later grades in times past. I realize that in the day and time in which we live, it is essential to be able to read graphs and know how to interpret them. But it just sometimes feels like there's too much of it too early, that they would comprehend it better if it was a little later.

But, it's not up to me to decide; if it's in the standards, I do a worksheet.