Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Exploring and Visualizing Data Sets

Big data and how it can be used is one of the topics that my ninth grade students are exploring this month. To that end, this week I introduced them to Google's Public Data Explorer and Google's Dataset Search tools.

Public Data Explorer is a tool that has been around for more than a decade at this point. The tool itself hasn't had any updates in a while. However, the datasets within Public Data Explorer have been updated. This week I'm having my students use it to create visualizations of data from the World Bank's World Development Indicators dataset. After they make the visualizations they have to do a little research to investigate causes of disparities depicted by the visualizations.

Here's a video that I made a few years ago about how to use the Public Data Explorer.

Google's Dataset Search tool is only about eighteen months old. It helps users find datasets that they can then download as Excel and CSV files, Google Earth files, zip files of images, and or collections of documents. Right now I'm having my freshmen visit Dataset Search just to give them a sense of the type of data that researchers collect and how it's organized. Later this month I'll have them create visualizations in Google Sheets from an imported dataset.

On the topic of data, Everybody Lies is an interesting read.