Growing up, my father was a math God – accountant, helper in all thinks math homework; basically a human calculator. On the rare occasion he could not solve the problem immediately in his head he pulled up 1990s excel and went to town. To this day I am still in awe of his excel and general math prowess. After a week of attempting to understand the various tutorials, I defaulted to YouTube and had a drop the computer, get up and dance break through. I successfully used COUNTIF function!
When I saw we had to create at least 30 lines of data this week, I had a bit of a panic attack. Only after reading Trevor Owens and Miriam Posner’s posts did I recognize that I am not alone in thinking I have no data. After digging through my project involved I still could not delineate data so I began breaking it down to the individual graduate level. I created columns for graduation year, rank reached, name, and conflicts involved in. Questions started jumping out at me: How many served in the Spanish-American War? World War I? World War II? What rank did they reach? How many died in service to their country? As great as the questions surfacing were, my biggest challenge was understanding excel well enough to get answers. It took a lot of trial and error discovering which functions might work and the subsequent fails filling in the formula before I found the You Tube series eHow Tech. It was explained well and was extremely helpful! I learned that COUNTIF was the functions answer for many of my questions. I also used MODE and AVERAGE regarding officers ranks. Here is my project data: ClassRings19Oct
Working with the smaller dataset was a nice introduction because I could easily double check numbers. Continuing this line of research will create another 150 lines of data, but I feel much more comfortable with any results. After working with my data, I began seeing more and more questions that I could draw from my project that I had not initially included in the practice data. Other questions that arose included:
- How many graduates received medals of valor?
- What was their average age of death?
- What is the breakdown of ring manufacturers?
- What is the breakdown of symbols used on class crests?
- How many officers served together throughout their careers?
- What is the breakdown of center stones by gem type?
Luckily, I think the bulk of my questions can be answered using the COUNTIF and AVERAGE functions. I am particularly excited about the possibility of linking the officers through their careers and showcasing the connection among Naval Academy graduates. I also think the qualitative results will be another great way to present the material. I wish I had read this week’s assignments prior to finishing my grant proposal so I could have included this methodology.