Data Hunting (Student Guide)
How might we use data to learn more about a topic?
Prepare: Learn about the key ideas in this project
Data is everywhere. Working with data can be a powerful tool for exploring questions that matter to you. What kinds of topics can you explore by working with data? Browse this video playlist of TED Talks and watch a few for inspiration.
In this project, you will identify a topic that you find interesting, then gather and analyze data in order to learn more about it. Whether your topic is related to athletics, arts, gaming, environmental science, or anything in between, the challenge is to leverage data to learn more about it.
Practice: Try as many activities as you would like to build your skills
Download a dataset from World Bank Open Data, the US Federal Government, or Amazon Web Services Public Datasets, and open it with Microsoft Excel. What can you learn about the topic by exploring the data? Can you transform the data into a graph to learn anything further?
Make a survey! Follow this tutorial on how to use Survey Monkey, then make your own survey to ask your classmates about the month of their birthday, their favorite food, or any other question. What information can you gather and quantify in order to learn more about your class through a survey?
Check out the tutorials and activities in TinkerPlots to help you use this powerful tool for exploring data sets.
Produce: Dig into the project and make it your own!
In this project, your challenge is to learn more about a topic that interests you by collecting and analyzing data. What’s the topic? It’s up to you! The goal is to explore the topic and learn more about it by working with data.
Select a topic
Choose a topic that interests you, for example:
- Sports: how does your favorite athlete perform over the course of a season?
- Music: what can you learn about an artist by studying the words used in their lyrics?
- Environment: how can you track the health of a nearby ecosystem?
Whatever you choose, be sure to select something that is accessible to you. This project relies on your ability to gather data and analyze it, so this project may not be possible if you choose a topic that has no available data.
Next, collect and organize the key data points about this topic. You may choose to do this with pen and paper or with a computer.
Based on the examples above, you may consider collecting:
- Sports: the number of minutes played per game, goals scored per game, assists per game, etc.
- Music: total number of unique words used, number of repeated words, a list of all words from all songs
- Environment: pH of water source, nutrient levels in soil, etc.
Once you have gathered the data, consider organizing it into a chart or a spreadsheet.
What can you learn about your topic by looking closely at the data you have gathered? Try organizing and reorganizing the data in different ways to ask new questions and gain new answers. For example:
- Sports: when was the athlete’s best week/month during the season? Against which team did the athlete perform best?? When does the athlete’s team win more frequently: when they have scored more points or made more assists?
- Music: what words does this artist use most frequently, and does that suggest anything about the overall message of their music? How would you describe the emotions of the artist’s music, and does an analysis of their words support that description?
- Environment: is the ecosystem healthy? How does the health of the ecosystem change over time? How does the health of this ecosystem compare to similar ecosystems in other places?
What have you learned about your topic by gathering and analyzing data? Share your findings with your classmates and friends!
Produced by Digital Promise Global, with thanks to the Open Educational Resources listed throughout this guide. Distributed to Learning Studios schools as part of HP, Inc. and Microsoft’s Reinvent the Classroom.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. You may share this project or modified versions of it under this same license.