Digging Into Data


Hello and welcome to our first asynchronous Web-based collaboration of the DataTools program. This event will extend from Monday, September 25 through Sunday evening, October 1. The focus of this event is Data: locating it, getting it into the form you need, choosing an appropriate analysis tool, and figuring out just what your students will do with it and learn from it. You will also get some feedback from a colleague about your data analysis steps. This experience will help you towards the goal of developing a fully detailed activity plan by October 14. (As you plan for that event, you may want to review the sample plan for Sizing Up Cells. You can find it and the Investigation Template in the Investigation Resources section of the Web site.)

We have divided the week of September 25, 2006 into two blocks. Between Monday and Wednesday evening, September 27, we ask that you contribute a brief description of your own plan. (See example below.) Remember that the activity you plan may be one you started in the summer, one that you create from scratch, an adaptation of an EET chapter, or a modification of an activity from some other source, including one that was inspired by a DataTools colleague. What's most important is that the activity support, and not detract from, your classroom work.

During the Wednesday through Sunday time block, we ask you to test and respond to the plan of a team member. Details are below.

On October 14, we would like to discuss this division of the week and how it worked for you.

Collaborative Groups

We have assigned you to a smaller group of 3 or 4 other colleagues for purposes of primary collaboration during the week. While you will review the plan of just one person in your group, you can also visit other groups to ask questions or share ideas. All collaboration should happen via the Group discussions.

Please check your own Group discussion area at least once a day, every day during the week of our collaboration. Someone may have asked for help or might be looking for feedback.

Our tentative plan is to mix up group composition from month to month, but on October 14 we will ask you for feedback on the Group arrangement.

Details of the Week's Assignment

Between Monday 9/25 and Wednesday evening 9/27/2006

  1. Post the link(s) to the Web-based data you plan to use.
    For example,
    Deforestation of Rondonia, Brazil, from 1975 to 2001
  2. Briefly describe the first data-rich activity you will use with your students.
    For example,
    While studying changes in ecosystems over time in life science, students will download a set of four images, showing deforestation of an area of Brazil. The images were taken across a twenty-six year period. Students will use ImageJ to stack, animate, and explore the set of images. They will quantify the deforestation by measuring cleared areas in pixels via thresholding. Then they will export the area measurements as a text file, add a column for the year of each image, and produce a line graph in Excel. (The result will be an exponential curve).
  3. Provide a simple set of instructions for downloading at least one data set, importing it into the software, and doing an analysis. The instructions may not be as detailed as you'll need for a middle school student, but should be clear and complete. For example,
    • Download the four images of the deforestation area from Scientific Visualization Studio
    • Open the images into ImageJ
    • Stack and animate the images
    • For each image, adjust the threshold so that only the deforested areas are highlighted in red
    • Select Analyze>Measure
    • Re-adjust the threshold for each image as needed and select Analyze>Measure.
    • Make the ImageJ Results Window active and choose File>Save As....to save the results as a text file.
    • Open the text file in Excel
    • Add a column for the year of each image
    • Use the Chart Wizard to create a line graph
  4. Describe how the activity supports the curriculum requirements you need to address for your district.
    For example,
    ...While studying changes in ecosystems over time:
    • Students will gain awareness of the impacts that humans can have on the environment.
    • Students will recognize that some environmental problems occur at exponential rates.

Between Thursday 9/28 and Sunday 10/01

  1. Test the process of downloading the data and follwing the instructions for the person in your Group whose name appears after your own. The last person in the list will test the first person's data analysis steps. Follow the simple set of instructions provided.
  2. Provide feedback on how that process worked. Add any other suggestions you may have that could strengthen the activity as you understand it.

A Reminder About Help
Please ask for help as you may need it, from within the Groups, throughout the week including:

  • others in your group
  • anyone else who is using the same tool
  • the person who posted the Plan you are reviewing

TERC team members will also be checking the Groups daily to provide assistance.