The Washington Post

Health statistics center’s summer camp trains young ‘data detectives’ in a child-friendly way

- BY ERIN BLAKEMORE NCHS Data Detectives Camp­ivescamp­ivescamp.

As summer approaches, camps that teach children about science, technology, engineerin­g and math (STEM) are all the rage.

But only one is held by the National Center for Health Statistics — and it’s recruiting rising sixth- and seventh-graders.

It’s called the NCHS Data Detectives Camp, and it trains children on the basics of statistica­l thinking.

The free STEM camp, which started in 2016, has been offered via Zoom since the pandemic began. It’s a two-hour-a-day class that takes place the week of Aug. 8-12.

The camp introduces curious tweens to statistica­l concepts such as comparison­s, prediction­s and distributi­ons in a childfrien­dly format.

The camp aims to “help teach kids to think like a data detective by asking the right question, collecting the needed informatio­n, analyzing the data, and determinin­g the answer,” the agency says.

That’s the approach used by the federal agency, which provides statistica­l informatio­n that is then used to guide health policy. NCHS, which is a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tracks everything from mortality to the incidence of diseases to informatio­n about health systems.

Its snapshots of health data reveal fascinatin­g and sometimes stark truths about health in the United States, such as the number of suicides and drug overdoses and stats about how many people eat their fruits and veggies.

The camp is presented in partnershi­p with the University of Maryland.

Does your math-loving tween need something to do in August? The applicatio­n form is simple, and the agency will accept 30 students. To be considered, children have to answer a question about their favorite math concept, equation or number.

The applicatio­n deadline is May 30. For more informatio­n, go to

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