Big data is the massive accumulation of digital information collected by governments, corporations, and other institutions. Although "we analyze and utilize less than one-half a percent of the data that exists," big data is a quickly growing field with implications spanning from healthcare and policy decision-making to entertainment. High school educators looking to introduce students to this exciting field should check out this hands-on activity from TeachEngineering, which covers the basics of data collection and analysis. Students work in pairs and begin by finding and importing data into Excel, where they then clean and chart these data. Next, each pair calculates relevant statistics and "summarize[s] their work by suggesting product launch strategies and reporting their findings and conclusions in class presentations." Geared toward students in grades 9-12, this lesson plan includes PDF and Word document versions of a data finding tip sheet, a worksheet to help students work with data in Excel, presentation rubrics, and an Excel example (using ESPN data). At the above link, readers will also find an overview of assignment procedures, big data vocabulary definitions, guidance on assessment, troubleshooting tips, and more.
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