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K-12 Technology

Aug 15, 2022 2022-08-15

STEM • STEAM • STREAM

Data Analysis Investigations for Young Children

The Oceans of Data Institute began as an initiative of the Learning and Teaching Division at Education Development Center (EDC). Over three years, the institute’s Preschool Data Collection and Analysis project created and tested problem-solving activities for young children. The activities integrate mathematics and computational thinking by engaging four- and five-year-olds in data collection and analysis investigations using hands-on materials and a digital tool that collects data and creates visual data displays. The team targeted specific math skills that are naturally engaging for young children (for example, counting and categorizing) and provide a foundation for later mathematics competencies. Ultimately, the project will set the stage for children who are underrepresented in STEM to succeed in mathematics and computational thinking tasks in elementary school and beyond.

The project’s nine hands-on, play-based, real-world learning investigations and the digital tool enhance technology fluency. The investigations involve hands-on materials, books, and physical movement. Assessments improve and measure preschoolers’ mathematical and computational thinking, and a learning blueprint and conjecture map articulates what children can and should learn, and the mechanisms by which they engage in that learning.

Teachers can view the Preschool Data Toolbox, a free teacher-facing app (available in the Apple and Android stores or online) and a digital teacher guide that provides lesson plans for the series of data-focused investigations. The app lets teachers and preschoolers work with the data, and quickly and easily create graphs and tally charts. Children are encouraged to engage in a “data talk” to discuss what the data mean. After creating a graph, the app’s tools allow teachers to draw on the screen with their finger, sort data, view data-talk questions, and transform the way data is represented from pictures to stacked blocks or solid bars.

The app also enables teachers and preschoolers to create their own graphs and tally charts to answer questions they are interested in. Teachers can create a “data story” in which they take the graphs created and add text to narrate the journey through the process of asking research questions, collecting data, creating the graph, and describing the data talk.

Early Childhood Mathematics Computational Thinking Digital Literacy Educational Technology

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