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Getting Ready for Big Data

Whether you are or will be teaching Exploring Computer Science (ECS) or Computer Science Principles (CSP), the topic of data will begin to permeate your course. This topic is fairly new to many of us. I barely remember a college stats class and that was probably one of only a few times many of us gave it much thought! Well, all of that is going to change! The good news is that as the topic slides into the spotlight in not only CS, but into all of the sciences, more and more resources appropriate for K-12 are coming online.

A quick review of what is expected
In ECS, students will be exploring how computing has facilitated new methods of managing and interpreting data and use computers to translate, process, and visualize data in order to find patterns and test hypotheses. They will work with a variety of large data sets that illustrate how widespread access to data and information facilitates identification of problems. In student projects, they will collect and generate their own data related to local community issues and discuss appropriate methods for data collection and aggregation of data necessary to support making a case or facilitating a discovery.

In CSP, students will use computational tools to analyze and study data, another of the big ideas of computer science, as data plays an incredibly important role in so many aspects of our lives. Students in this course work with "big-data." They will analyze it, visualize it, and draw conclusions from trends in it. They will be expected to explain how data, information, or knowledge are represented for computational use; explain how abstractions are used in computation or modeling; identify abstractions; and describe modeling in a computational context.

A couple resources
I came across this really interesting and valuable site called "Using Data in the Classroom." There are data sets, ideas for using data in the classroom, pedagogical resources, and ideas for teaching with models. It is geared mostly toward science classrooms, but I found quite a bit that would be useful in ECS and CSP. Take a look.

Data.gov is another useful site for finding the “big data” necessary for teaching many data concepts. There are 1000's of data sets! You (as well as your students) will have fun just exploring the information on this site, with everything from baby names since 1879, to a national bridge inventory, to biodiversity reports. Take a look (and be prepared to be hooked)

Pat Phillips
Editor, CSTA Voice

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