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This Marana teen wanted to know if people are social distancing. She got 1,200 answers

This Marana teen wanted to know if people are social distancing. She got 1,200 answers

From the April's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: 1,200+ Pima County cases, stay-home order extended series

People in Tucson are practicing social distancing — at least according to a survey by one Marana High School junior, which received over 1,200 responses in five days.

Tatum Caldwell’s first attempt at an empirical study found that nearly 90% of respondents said they are staying 6 feet apart from others when they go out, nearly 59% are wearing a mask when they go out, 15% are wearing gloves, and 7.5% said they are not doing anything different than they used to.

Caldwell and her parents emailed the survey and posted it on both parents’ Facebook accounts, Tatum’s Snapchat and Instagram, and their neighborhood association’s Facebook. They collected 600 responses in the first 12 hours.

The survey included a number of questions, but the program Caldwell used offered no way to compare different answers. For example, she knows that over half the respondents were between the ages of 31 and 50, but she has no way to see how many in that specific age group wear masks when they go out.

Eighty percent of the survey respondents were female; 41% are working from home; 31% are still going into a job; 75% leave their home two or fewer times a week; and 28% are not working, though she doesn’t know what percentage of those not working are retired, weren’t working before the coronavirus pandemic or lost work because of the current crisis.

The survey was an assignment in the teen’s AP Psychology class. Tatum’s teacher, Brad Winchester, says the response she received was enormous for a student project.

Usually kids pick a topic that is relatively important to them in the moment but unimportant to a lot of people, Winchester said. They might receive 50 responses, tops, which is fine since they are not doing publishable research.

He knew when Caldwell sent in her proposal that she would get a huge response.

“But I didn’t think it was going to be that much,” he said.

Tatum’s mom, Tanya Caldwell, who is also the principal at DeGrazia Elementary in the Marana School District, said she and her daughter learned a lot about how to do surveys, including how they could have asked different questions to draw more interesting conclusions.

Tanya Caldwell thinks between her family’s different social media accounts and the neighborhood association, the respondent group is pretty random. Although she estimates 90% of them live in Tucson.

That said, there may be so many more women because both she and her daughter have more women and girls on their social media. Tanya laughs about the natural flaw in the study.

“That’s a problem in our research,” she says.

Tatum is interested in pursuing a career in psychology. This project made her begin thinking about doing case studies on human interactions.

She wonders how much fear of the coronavirus plays a role in people staying at home more and practicing social distancing.

Her mom thinks the data shows that people are following the rules.

“Which is kind of flabbergasting to me because, in today’s world, people often just do what’s best for themselves,” Tanya Caldwell said. “It’s kind of showing that they’re not — that they are caring about everybody.”

Contact reporter Danyelle Khmara at dkhmara@tucson.com or 573-4223. On Twitter: @DanyelleKhmara

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