Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Open Data and Coding Project for Grade Six Social Studies and Math

I've recently put together a project-based learning challenge related to Alberta Education's grade six curriculum for social studies and mathematics. It involves open data released by governments, and coding-based graphing. Feel free to use it however you see fit, and let me know if there's anything that could be tweaked or improved.

The essential question is, "What data are available from governments, what use can we make of it, and what are some other things we would like to know?"

Use data from,,,, or somewhere else to:

  1. Construct a line graph of some statistic over time using HighCharts code from one of these examples: frequency of baby names or population of Sherwood Park and
    1. describe the trend or trends in the data and brainstorm reasons
    2. hypothesize what those data might look like in the future, and why
    3. investigate how those data were collected
  2. Assemble a map of essential (or interesting) services provided by Strathcona County, the City of Edmonton, and/or Alberta (e.g. this one) and
    1. compare how these are different in urban versus rural areas
    2. explain why you think that level of government is responsible for those services
    3. propose how the public could get involved in the expansion of those services
  3. Design a questionnaire to solicit opinions of other students, staff, and parents about either or both of the previous challenges.
  4. Write and send a letter to an elected official describing either or both of:
    1. your findings from one or more of the previous challenges
    2. suggestions for data sets that could or should be available (e.g. spending or locations).

I've created two jsfiddle starting points for students to graph data:

and a map they can use as an example of displaying geographic data:,-113.3259701,10z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!6m1!1s1tRWTjGzElTe2l5vo981zgWZQBE8

The curricular outcomes that would likely relate to students' projects are:

Social Studies:
Benchmark Skills and Processes:
Dimensions of Thinking:
critical thinking and creative thinking: assess significant local and current affairs from a variety of sources, with a focus on examining bias and distinguishing fact from opinion
historical thinking: use primary sources to broaden understanding of historical events and issues
geographic thinking: construct and interpret various types of maps (i.e., historical, physical, political maps) to broaden understanding of topics being studied
decision making and problem solving: propose and apply new ideas, strategies and options, supported with facts and reasons, to contribute to decision making and problem solving
Research for Deliberative Inquiry:
research and information: determine the reliability of information, filtering for point of view and bias
6.1: Citizens Participating in Decision Making
General Outcome: Students will demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the dynamic relationship between governments and citizens as they engage in the democratic process.
6.1.4 - analyze the structure and functions of local governments in Alberta by exploring and reflecting upon the following questions and issues:
How are representatives chosen to form a local government (i.e., electoral process)?
What are the responsibilities of local governments (i.e., bylaws, taxes, services)?
How are local governments structured differently in rural and urban settings?
What role is played by school boards (i.e., public, separate, Francophone) within local communities?
6.1.6 - analyze how individuals, groups and associations within a community impact decision making of local and provincial governments by exploring and reflecting upon the following questions and issues:
How can individuals, groups and associations within a community participate in the decision-making process regarding current events or issues (i.e., lobbying, petitioning, organizing and attending local meetings and rallies, contacting elected representatives)?
How do associations such as the Association canadienne-française de l'Alberta (ACFA), the Métis Nation of Alberta Association (MNAA) and the First Nations Authorities (FNA) provide their members with a voice, at local and provincial levels, exercising historical and constitutional rights?
In what ways do elected officials demonstrate their accountability to the electorate (e.g., respond to constituents, participate in local events, represent and express in government meetings the concerns of constituents)?

Statistics & Probability - Data Analysis
General Outcome: Collect, display and analyze data to solve problems.
Specific Outcome 1: Create, label and interpret line graphs to draw conclusions.
Communication | Connections | Problem Solving | Reasoning | Visualization
Specific Outcome 2: Select, justify and use appropriate methods of collecting data, including:
Questionnaires, Experiments, Databases, Electronic media.
[ICT: C4 - 2.2, C6 - 2.2, C7 - 2.1, P2 - 2.1, P2 - 2.2]
Specific Outcome 3: Graph collected data, and analyze the graph to solve problems.