Helping young people learn about economic statistics—and have fun doing it!

This week we have guest bloggers, Jean Fox and Robin Kaplan of the BLS Office of Survey Methods Research. Jean and Robin are part of a team of staff members who have been working to improve our web resources for students and their teachers and parents.

BLS recently launched a new K-12 website to reach out to our youngest audience—students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The goal of the site is to help students learn about BLS concepts related to statistics and the economy and to help them make informed career decisions.

The new site has a mix of games, resources for students and teachers, and facts about BLS. Students can play games that teach them about BLS concepts, find careers that relate to their interests, and learn facts about the economy and jobs. Teachers can use the content on the site to bring BLS into the classroom, with hands-on activities that teach students about topics such as inflation, time use, and careers.

The development team wanted to get feedback about the site directly from kids. So when the Department of Labor (DOL) hosted a “Take your Daughters and Sons to Work Day,” we took advantage of the opportunity to see what the kids thought.

During the event, we held sessions in a DOL computer lab. Four different groups of 20 students each came through the lab, including students from elementary, middle, and high school. During each session, we gave a brief demonstration of the site, then let the kids try it out on their own. Most of the kids tried at least one of the games, and a number of them looked at career information. At the end of each session, we had a brief discussion about their experience and their recommendations for the site.

Overall, the students (and the chaperones!) liked the material on the site, but they had some great ideas for improving it. For example:

  • The students thought the games should have more of a “celebration” when they won.
  • Some students thought the games were too hard, others thought they were too easy. To address this, we should be sure to include different levels of difficulty for the games.
  • A couple of students mentioned that they might want to access the games and other content from a cell phone or a tablet, so we should make sure everything works on these devices.
  • Several students suggested that we should have more games; they were happy to hear we had more planned.

Overall, students who looked at the career information thought it was useful and interesting. They also had some suggestions, including:

  • We should make it easier to find information about occupations that were not listed on our page. Our Occupational Outlook Handbook contains information about hundreds of jobs, so the K-12 site should provide an easy way to reach it.
  • We should make sure that we include the more popular occupations on the K-12 career exploration page.

The team has already incorporated some of the suggestions. We are continuing to revise the site to add content and address additional suggestions from the kids. We are also working to get more feedback from students and teachers to improve the site for everyone. By creating content that appeals to kids, we hope to continue our mission of reaching out to the next generation of BLS customers.

If you have suggestions or comments, please contact the team at Kids@bls.gov.