Friday, March 15, 2013

Data Unit: Lets do the Numbers

Today we started the unit on data in the CS Principles

Sketch for Day 1 - (I am a visual planner)

This is probably the trickiest of all of the CS Principles Big Ideas. Data is just a big toic - a lot of ideas under one umbrella. For most Computer Science teachers it is not a topic that was a part of our training and it is not something we are used to teaching. It is a fairly new topic to computer science in general and I do think we are not yet sure how to approach the topic so that it is understandable and engaging for high school kids and also reachers the rigor of a college level course.

My approach for this Unit ("Lets do the Numbers") is to cover a few topics. We'll do the Data portfolio this unit. We need to look at number calculations in coding. This includes some ideas like roudoff error and will also tie back to the topics we did at the beginning of the year around data representation. If we have the time we'll also do some things around modeling and simulation.

This is a change for this year. Last year we got bogged down with coding and lost sight of the data aspects. really they don't need to amster all teh minutia of numeric processing, but you do want them to connect that processing to some pretty big changes happening in computer science right now.

A note of caution on Data - not all Data is BIG. There is a lot of buzz around the idea of Big data and it is important to to implement this with fidelity to the actual CS Principles standards. Big Idea II is Data, and it states:

Data: Data and information facilitate the creation of knowledge.

There are seven "Supporting Concepts" for this. Only one of them mentions Big Data.

(As an aside "supporting concepts??"- I know - sometimes I also wish we just got a topic list like the regular APCS and be done with it. Trust me, you'll get used to it).

So What? The point is not everything your kids will be doing for this topic involve big data sets. A lot of it really is just engaging with the topic and making connections outside the computer science lab.

Here are the thinking points I want my kids walking away with for the data topics:

  • Is it true?
  • What data is being collected about me?
  • How has data changed scientific research?
  • How is data stored?
  • Is data always good?

And really, aren't these basic civics topics for anyone living on the Internet?

The Unit --> Here's a list of what we are doing for the unit


  1. For #3 you might also refer them to the youtube clips on and


So, what do YOU think?