databot™ Promotes Covid-19 Safety!

Does wearing a mask reduce your chance of spreading disease? databot™ investigates!

databot™ Takes on the Coronavirus!

With the arrival of the Coronavirus this year we have all experienced extraordinary change in how we work, how we go to school, how we interact with one another, and even  how we stay safe and healthy. databot™ is a highly versatile tool for teaching a variety of topics including Life Science, Chemistry, Earth Science, Physics, Environment, Coding, Robotics, etc.  One innovative Missouri teacher was curious if databot™ could help students understand more about the Coronavirus and measures that help to stop its spread – an awesome real-world investigation into how data can help us solve problems.

databot™’s mission is to promote data literacy and to develop skills in students that empower them to make their own informed decisions on any number of topics ranging from scientific questions to cultural or political questions.  The ability to interpret and understand data is a critical skill in any 21st century career.

What data driven scientific exploration could be more important than conquering the Coronavirus?!  

Discovery Elementary in St. Charles Missouri Uses databot™ to Reinforce Covid Safety!

databot - Revolutionize STEM education

Meet Andrew Wall, Intrepid Anti-Virus Explorer, Educator, Sphero Hero

Andrew Wall, K-5 Technology & Innovation Teacher at Discovery Elementary

Andrew Wall teaches K-5 Technology and Innovation classes at Discovery Elementary School in St. Charles Missouri.  He’s also an ambassador for Sphero, a “Sphero Hero,” who helps provide classroom feedback and teacher guidance to the Sphero development team.  Finally, he’s an active Twitter thought leader with thousands of followers and contributes regularly to podcasts and e-meets that help his fellow educators solve problems and get encouragement when needed. Follow him at @awall777.  We asked Andy what inspired him to become a teacher.

“I had a Science teacher that gave us the option of following the text book or doing our own experiments.  After the class chose experiments, he threw the textbook out the window! That moment has guided me throughout my career, the idea that involving kids in a learning experience has far more power than just learning from other’s experiences.”

Some other Q&A with Andy was insightful as we learned about his unique lesson using databot™ to help students understand the effectiveness of masks in slowing the spread of a virus.

Tell us a little bit about your relationship with Sphero and your ambassador role. What are some of your favorite things about Sphero?

“I am a Sphero Hero and I get to have input on their products as well as be a part of an incredible community of teachers that help and support each other. I think my favorite thing about Sphero is that their products are designed around the idea of learning through play. Each product has a huge engagement factor that just draws students and adults alike into it.”

Now that you have used databot™ a bit and created a pretty awesome learning module around it, what are your thoughts?

“It is sturdy, I have dropped it many times already and it has suffered no damage. I like that it has many more sensors than other products I have tried. Additionally, though I haven’t had a chance to try it, the idea that it is hackable is a huge bonus that gives it the all important expandability that many products lack. It is super easy to use and very easy to translate the information to kids of all ages. Our one little experiment has turned into a massive cross curricular learning experience that continues to engage my students.”

Inspired Use of the databot CO2 Sensor Yields a Great Learning Experience!

Andy is a big fan of Canvas, the Learning Management System, and develops much of his learning content in this framework so that it is organized, ready for both virtual or classroom use, and can easily be shared with his colleagues.  He shared his learning module on the efficacy of mask-wearing based on data collection using databot which was a great success in the classroom and ultimately school wide as the Principal asked that it be shared with the entire staff.

If you are a Canvas user just search for “databot” in the Commons and it should pop right up!

“I think it all started as a way for our students to see just how important wearing their masks properly was. We all want to stay in school and in order for that to happen, we all have to do our diligence to be safe and keep others safe. As we are progressing through this, many students are just blown away by the changes in CO2 as we get closer, even with a mask on. I think that seeing the differences through data has opened a lot of eyes and intrinsically motivated kids to be as safe as they can. Several students are about to start making commercials for our Daily News Broadcasts.”

What difference does wearing a mask make?

Andy recorded videos conducting the experiment using a range of face coverings from none to N-95 medical grade.   Students noted the data and were all responsible for building their  Google Sheet for analysis and gaining a deeper understanding.  This was an awesome hands-on experience with real data evaluating a real world problem using real-world tools! 

Thank Andy for developing and sharing this work by following him on Twitter at @awall777.

The databot™ Data Literacy Series

Data literacy – what is it and why is it important? In this blog series, we’ll be exploring the why and how of data literacy programs in play today.   If you think about the world we live in it becomes evident quickly that the ability to read, interpret, and communicate data clearly might be the most valuable skill on the planet in the 21st century.  Self driving cars, autonomous drone fleets, business intelligence that feeds us the exact advertising at the exact time required to convert our purchase – all of this is powered by data. 

As citizens of a data driven world it is our responsibility to become data literate to make informed decisions.  When students work on data driven activities with databot™, they are building valuable skills in the collection, visualization, and interpretation, and communication of scientific data.  These skills are transferrable to all other types of data whether it is business intelligence, Covid 19 statistics, or the latest data from Mauna Loa Observatory telling us our planetary CO2 levels are continuing to rise.  

Critical for Careers:  A competent grasp of data is probably required to be successful in any career of the 21st century, and one select career track, data science, is growing by leaps and bounds.  By 2026 the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be 11.5 Million jobs in data science, and for the past four years running Glassdoor has named data science its number one job. You can read an article with more details here, see some of the top applications of data science in the real world, and also see some of the hefty salaries ($80K-160K average) that employees with this skill set are taking home. Importantly, this all starts with basic competence in data literacy!

I think in the same way that teachers use data to better their instruction, data literacy can help students improve their knowledge of concepts. Observations are great, but when you add in the data, you remove any doubt and give students factual information that they can draw conclusions from.  With the increase of technology, students will need to understand how to collect, organize and use data in many of their chosen career paths.
                         -Andy Wall

Important Practices to Master: The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are an impressive body of work developed to guide science education for the 21st century.  One of the three cornerstones of the NGSS are the eight Science and Engineering Practices that  are identified as essential for all students to learn.  Importantly, the 4th practice is Analyzing and Interpreting data.  Whenever students are conducting data oriented activities such as those using databot™, they are learning to collect and analyze data – an invaluable skill that can be applied to any career of the 21st century.  The more comfortable we can make our students when interacting with data today, the more successful they will be tomorrow.

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About the Author

Robert Grover is a proponent of STEAM education and educational technology that helps engage and develop the students of today into the thoughtful leaders of tomorrow.