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.

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