Playing with data

Use free tools and resources to examine data; consider the stories they tell, how to visualize the stories, and how to act on what we learn

Photo of MK

Written by

Might it be possible to for kids and schools to find public data sets (e.g., Direct Relief <https://www.directrelief.org>, Charity Wise <http://charitywiseinc.com>, and Give Well <http://www.givewell.org>), experiment with tools that structure the data (e.g., Excel), discuss the analysis as a team on Slack <https://slack.com/>, play with visualizing the data (e.g., Tableau (free trial), present the results as an infographic <https://www.canva.com/create/infographics/>, and then blog about what we learned on Tumblr?

Thank you to everyone who has commented so far or looked over the post! Here is the start of a build out--I'd be grateful for feedback. I work with kids privately, so my sense of scale will differ from yours. What sounds practical to you?

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1klQTZjOhj4VmbS9YxoGb-F-BZsl-VfiER2bcO1-Icco    

13 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of MK
Team

Kristin, thank you so much! No, I've never heard of TuvaLabs, but we are about to get acquainted!

Photo of KRISTIN Nash
Team

MK,

Have you ever played around with TuvaLabs?  It is an awesome source of real data that students (and adults) can get lost in.  We are currently trying it with a few teachers in our district as a way to help increase data literacy with our secondary students.  Check it out!  [I don't work for them, but love their product :) ]

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

um...YES! THAT WOULD BE AMAZING! How would we go about getting started? To take it a step further, what can be done with the learnings from the data? What I mean is armed with this powerful information, how do students turn it into action? I'd love to start thinking about what a prototype of this idea would look like. I wonder if an info graphic could sum up the whole idea. Then we could start working on what it would look like in practice via google docs. Thoughts?

Photo of MK
Team

I'm going to think out loud--this won't be a fully formed idea, okay? I work with a lot of seniors who are applying to college. Many of them do charitable fund raising, and when I ask them what happens to the money, no one can tell me in a concrete way (it's going to help kids in X country). What if the leaders of these organizations (e.g., Key Club, UNICeF) built a 2- to 3-year strategic plan maybe using Slack to collaborate... Instead of having random goal to raise X amount of dollars, the plan might include research into the number of dollars raised over throughout the country for the past, say, 5 years. Data should be available in annual reports at least. One team might collect data, as another started parsing the data (in Excel). Intermediate goals: how much are the kids really raising and where is the money really going? Yes, getting clarity here will take time and due diligence. At some point, though, you'll settle on an estimated number of dollars and a rough target (pays for postage at the home office :(, actually made it to that school in X country and was spent on Y, etc.) Yes, time consuming--how might it be made faster? Keep discussing the process, analysis, and findings on Slack, storing spreadsheets there, too--or on Drive. What then makes sense as a way forward? 2000 high school students each raising $200 and sending it into the void (despite getting resume credit) or 2000 students deciding to make a $40K, $400K contribution to a limited number of recipients with accountability for how they spent the money? At some point, in some county communication, I can see a gorgeous graph of fundraising over time, broken down by school? club? and then recut to show value--new playgrounds built? 50 more kids able to attend school with fees and books paid for? etc. The eventual infographic might be linear (see HubSpot <http://offers.hubspot.com/how-to-create-infographics-in-powerpoint>), might not, and could be made into a poster to hang outside the superintendent's office.

What if some of the work were to be built into the math, stats, and graphic design curricula?

Just thinking out loud...

Photo of Grace
Team

MK -- I LOVE this. This is so great. Kids doing what they care about and putting so many skills together to make it happen. I love how it's also an amazing opportunity to help kids build those important teamwork skills. I'd suggest getting the local charities involved, and I'm sure you could get a local data scientist to come in as an expert advisor as well. 

Photo of Lisa Yokana
Team

MK
You should think about starting a google doc and asking others to join you in designing this out further. I think it's a really cool idea. Let me know if yo'd like help
Lisa

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

Hi MK,  

Very cool idea! I would love to start working in a google doc with you to identify how we would get this idea off the ground. Would you like to start a doc? You can post the link to the doc in your original post by updating the post. Very excited about this idea!

Photo of John Faig
Team

I love the idea of an infographic because it is a communication vehicle, so students can peer review it and provide feedback.  Is the infographic clear?  What "takeaways" do you get?  How do several infographics compare in terms of persuasiveness?

Photo of MK
Team

Thank you, John. Yes. And learning to communicate in pictures also lets students compare the relative effectiveness of pictures with words vs words alone. Language alone isn't enough anymore, nor are numbers. A wonderful blog for thinking about how to guide a reader's eye in an honest way is Cole Nussbaumer's Storytelling with Data <http://www.storytellingwithdata.com>. She's clearly channeling Edward Tufte, but she understands the speed at which most of us work and helps any ethical data presenter do the right thing for the reader or viewer.

Photo of MK
Team

Just found some more interesting data and updated the Google Doc that drafts the build. What do you think?

Photo of MK
Team

Thank you to everyone who has commented so far or looked over the post! Here is the start of a build out--I'd be grateful for feedback. I work with kids privately, so my sense of scale will differ from yours. What sounds practical to you?

<https://docs.google.com/document/d/1klQTZjOhj4VmbS9YxoGb-F-BZsl-VfiER2bcO1-Icco/edit>  

If the link doesn't work, please tell me?

Thank you for your counsel!

Photo of John Faig
Team

Love the idea of using data as a bridge between students in different states or countries!  Another idea (albeit late for 2016) would be for students to setup a political fact-checking service. for their school and solicit questions from other students and teachers.

Photo of MK
Team

Grace, thanks for the vote of confidence. Lisa, yes, I'd appreciate your counsel!