Making Open Data Useful for Teaching and Learning

TuvaLabs makes open data useful by curating it into easy to use data sets and then developing rich activities around each data set. This enables teachers to bring data-based inquiry into their classrooms. These classrooms can range from civics, health, and history to science, statistics, and economics.

The way we enable inquiry into real world data is by focusing on three areas. First, we make sure students are able to ask their own questions. Then, we provide opportunities for students to explore, visualize, and analyze real data. And finally, we empower students to communicate their own findings. This means Tuvalabs is a space where students learn from local and global data, affording them to become aware and active members of their local and global communities.

In collaboration with Teachers, we’ve discovered that third graders are learning the basics of the statistical language from data about movies. Then, there are fifth grade students creating visual and verbal arguments from data around the income inequalities between men and women. Eighth graders from New Jersey are becoming aware of their community through local data on population and energy consumption data. And one more brilliant example is of ninth grade students in the Bronx learning data literacy from their local Bronx population.

Some of these students have gotten back to us about their learning experiences. One student said, "It is challenging. But we get to learn about Gender inequality and how it is affecting us." Another commented that "this was a very interesting topic to explore because I love to go to theme parks."

Occasionally, students and teachers want to explore a topic that's not yet covered on TuvaLabs. When this happens, they request data. For example, learners requested data about the demographics of the current US Congress and about the impact of Barbie's proportions on society.

The impact we've observed both inside and outside the classroom continues to motivate us. Every teacher that's part of the this community has contributed to making TuvaLabs the way it is today.

TuvaLabs Places First at the LinkedUp Vidi Competition

We went to Crete this past month to show our work at the LinkedUp Vidi Competition, which was held at the ESWC conference. We presented how TuvaLabs is making open data useful for teaching and learning. The competitors' presentations were very impressive and polished, and included Rhizi, Konnektid, DBLPXplorer, LODStories, eDL mobile app, Solvonauts, and agINFRA.

Making Open Data Useful for Teaching and Learning

Curated Data Sets around a Variety of Topics
After presenting to conference attendees, we received some great feedback and had the opportunity to connect to and build relationships with the open data community and several other startups. Several meetings included people from the Open Knowledge Foundation, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Mozilla Science Lab, software carpentry, and many more.

The Winners from the Vidi Competition

We feel very fortunate to have placed first, and are very pleased with the 3000 Euros we’ve been awarded. After the competition, the various LinkedUp successes were interviewed about their experiences while being part of the competition. Below, you can see a compiled video of these interviews. Enjoy!

Giving Human Form to Audio Visualizers, Version 1

I'll upload a video of this audio visualization when I have some time. In the meantime, try the code out yourself. I'm still tweaking it to figure out what might look best.

Some requirements to run this code:
1. Download OpenCV for Processing from here:
2. And download and install from here:
2.b. Probably need v2.4.5 of opencv from, but I was able to get it to work with v2.4.9

I'm also using processing 2.1.2.

And finally, copy this gist into processing:

Design and its Critics - Deyan Sudjic

If you're interested in design history compressed into twenty minutes, listen to this talk. Deyan Sudjic presents the last century of design, how it's been changing, and how it's been used to attain a plethora goals from commercial, social, and technical. Deyan is the director of the Design Museum and the author of a new book, 'B is for Bauhaus.'

A Psychoanalysis Perspective on Life and Everything

A great discussion between Adam Phillips, a psychoanalyst and literary figure, and Matthew Taylor, the Chief Executive of the RSA.

Visiting the MUSE School

Cross posting an article I wrote for the TuvaLabs blog:

Connecting with Joe Harper at the Big Bang Conference in Rhode Island, we were invited and humbled to visit the MUSE School. Each and every school we visit is a special day for us. The teachers we meet and the students we speak to motivate us to keep going. To meet the community at the MUSE School, I flew cross country to Los Angeles. Their school sits at the bottom of two hills. After parking and checking in at their office, I was enthusiastically greeted by Tania Lopez-Hipple – a math instructor. We toured the campus, went through several rooms and I loved seeing the walls of each classroom filled from floor to ceiling with work produced by their kids. When I say from floor to ceiling, I mean their ceilings drape with student work cause there’s no space to tape anything more. These teachers make a point to showcase their students.
I learned the faculty at this school take an interest in every child in their classroom. Each teacher works to incorporate subjects like math and English into the child’s current project - they work to intrinsically motivate their students. One kid I met was designing and building his own miniature golf hole by incorporating concepts from geometry.
We continued on to the multipurpose room where a quarter of our organic lunch was grown on campus. Tania and I, sitting with another teacher, discussed the value of independent research projects. These types of projects last for three months and engage with kids around their own interests. We discussed how TuvaLabs can be a support tool for the students to incorporate data analysis and mathematical concepts into their independent research projects. This is the beginning of a collaboration that we’re eager to learn from and engage in. We’re excited to see the kids at the MUSE School get excited around data they’re interested in.
As we move forward be sure to come back to our blog to see updates and student work being showcased on our blog.

Source Code: How to Make a Movie in Processing

The following code will allow one to save frames with text in processing.

Press 'r' to begin and stop recording.
Press 'n' to go to the next text.
Press 'p' to go back.

The output will be frames in a folder called 'output.' Then, you'll have to compile these frames in third party software, like QuickTime.

Chad Dickerson of Etsy - Business is Personal: Putting people and planet before profit

Chad Dickerson, CEO of Etsy, spoke at the RSA about placing people and planet at the center of the business. He speaks to the shift in mindset that's occurring due to the information revolution, he quotes E.F. Schumacher, "The way in which we experience and interpret the world obviously depends very much indeed on the kind of ideas that fill our minds.If they are mainly small, weak, superficial, and incoherent, life will appear insipid, uninteresting, petty, and chaotic." The internet allows us to read anyone's ideas from anywhere in the world. These ideas include the stories of people's living and working conditions. We empathize with these stories and we feel our interdependence. We've realized the harm human commercial activity has caused around the world.

Dickerson argues for building a better mindset in order to build a more human world, specifically from "the conscious utilisation of our enormous technological and scientific potential for the fight against misery and human degradation – a fight in intimate contact with actual people, with individuals, families, small groups, rather than states and other anonymous abstractions" (E.F. Schumacher). I think he means leveraging our new mindset, due to new technologies, to place human work-life activities at the center of business. The examples he provides are about leveraging technologies like the internet and new corporate structures like the B-corp to create an inclusive, socially aware, and sustainable society. This shift in mindset should improve the quality of life while also creating sustainable businesses.