Big Data Leads to Some Big Understandings

by Daniel W., Concordia Middle School Student

As one of the trimester courses, middle school students have the opportunity to enroll in a Big Data class for ten weeks. From the Agricultural era to the Industrial era, and today we have entered the ‘information era.’  According to MicroFocus, “There are 1440 minutes per day…so that means there are approximately: 1,209,600 new data producing social media users each day. 656 million tweets per day! More than 4 million hours of content uploaded to Youtube every day, with users watching 5.97 billion hours of Youtube videos each day.”

Middle School student Courtney H. delivers her findings about crushes and dates.  (image supplied)

Middle School student Courtney H. delivers her findings about crushes and dates. (image supplied)

 

Data is sent across the world, from texts to word searches; the world has never been more connected than it is in the present. This is why many students signed up for the Big Data elective – create infographics which are the new essay. “I was curious about how much information is on the internet and how it affects our lives,” said Isaac L., an eighth grade student.

 

            The Big Data class offered a new perspective on everyday living. One of the many projects was to find data on yourself and create an infographic. This taught the class how to collect and understand data using Google surveys and forms as well as Excel. Students collected data from their iPhone and laptop:  screen time on apps, number of texts sent, genres of music, types of searches, WeChat/Instagram posts, amount of funds paid over WeChat and others.

 

Through this process students learned the value of storytelling with data. In addition, finding correlations with the data were also emphasized in the course’s teachings. “It may seem like these skills can only be used in this class, but they can definitely be applied to real world situations and my other classes!” said Aidan H.

Andy J. shares about himself… by the numbers.  (image supplied)

Andy J. shares about himself… by the numbers. (image supplied)

 

This course offers a wide variety of activities that stimulate the mind and beckons insightful questions such as, “how do I use Excel?” and, “what can I learn from this?” Also many students discovered and stated, “I didn’t know I was on WeChat that much or gaming. OMG!”

 

In one conversation the class tackled the intricate situation of China’s social credit system, “There’s an unbelievable amount information that you can learn just by talking to others on WeChat” states Kyle L. As students dived into the collection of data, privacy became a question:  Is privacy dead?

 

            Not many STEM electives enthuse teenagers, but this class grabs the class of 2023 by the hand and throws them into the ‘Information Era’ where their academic minds can work their magic...and understand the new third dimension – data. It’s the new oil.