DataBasic
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DataBasic

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Overview

Welcome to DataBasic.io! DataBasic is a set of tools and hands-on workshops developed to help people learn data literacy concepts in safe, engaging, familiar ways. Along with DataBasic is the Data Culture Project, activities created to foster a culture of data in your community. You can check out all of DataBasic and the Data Culture Project at databasic.io.

The Analog Spreadsheet and Data Sculptures were part of a PLIX Residency Exchange with the St. Paul Main Library, and help patrons learn about asking questions, gathering data, analyzing data, telling your story. These two activities are great for public-facing programming for the community as well as internal professional development opportunities for staff. Here is some information to help you get started!

Workshop Structure

These workshops touch on three different elements:

  1. A conversation about different types of data and data collection
  2. An activity designed to give participants hands-on experiences with the topic.
  3. A come-together activity, where participants share their work and reflect on what they've learned.

Learning Goals

By creating this series of activities, we aim to:

  • Provide learners of all ages with new skills to interpret and understand data.
  • Facilitate the development a critical eyeβ€”fit for thinking about data privacy, consent, and ethicsβ€”as well as an ability to imagine more safe and equitable futures for data collection and usage.
  • Leverage local news and datasets for fostering civic involvement.

How these workshops might exist in your library

Some ideas for bringing these activities to your library include:

  • Pick out datasets or questions that correspond to a theme or holiday at your library right now, like climate data for Earth Month or candy data for Halloween πŸŽƒ
  • Adapt the activities for a drop-in style public event where participants can add to the sculpture or spreadsheet as they go by πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ¨
  • Try these activities with your staff as a professional development opportunity and get used to working with and talking about data 🀝
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PLIX Tip: Remember, like all PLIX activities, we encourage you to use these materials as a jumping off point β€” feel free to remix and modify to suit your local community! And if you try something new, we'd love to hear about it on the PLIX Discussion Forum.

Workshop Guides

Analog Spreadsheet

In the Analog Spreadsheet activity, participants fill out a large paper spreadsheet with some information about them. It's a great activity to get people thinking about data and privacy, as well as an opportunity for them to get to know each other!

Workshop at a Glance

  • Age Range: 8-108! Tailor for your own needs.
  • Group Size: Anywhere from 10 to 40 people, 20-30 is ideal
  • Number of Facilitators: 1-2
  • Session Length: 30 minutes
  • Cost: Only the cost of chart paper/white board and markers
  • Materials: All you need is markers and chart paper or a whiteboard that people can reach!

Flow

To plan your workshop, start by going through DataBasic's guide. Then, consider a few ways to host this in a library setting:

  • Could this be a good warmup activity for a program you are running?
  • What themes/events are happening at your library right now that could help you tailor your questions?
  • How can you change this event based on the age of participants?

As well as the examples given in the guide, some other questions we've asked participants in our workshops are:

  • # of Pets
  • Favorite season
  • Have you read [insert popular book series]?
  • Astrological sign
  • Favorite color
An analog spreadsheet from the PLIX@Akron Workshop.
An analog spreadsheet from the PLIX@Akron Workshop.

An analog spreadsheet from Cambridge Public Library.
An analog spreadsheet from Cambridge Public Library.

Data Sculptures

The Data Sculptures activity is a playful and engaging one that asks participants to make a 3D representation of data to tell a story.

Workshop at a Glance

  • Age Range: 8-108! Tailor for your own needs.
  • Group Size: Anywhere from 10 to 80 people, around 30 is ideal
  • Number of Facilitators: 1-2
  • Session Length: ~1 hour
  • Cost: Only the cost of arts and craft supplies
  • Materials: This is up to you! Try materials you're looking to get out of the supply closet, themed materials for holidays/seasons/current events, recycled materials, whatever you want! No markers or LEGOsβ€” people may try to revert to drawing a graph or to use Legos to make bar graphs.

Flow

To plan your workshop, start by going through DataBasic's guide. This is good activity to help people get started working with data and representing it in different ways. Then, consider a few ways to host this in a library setting:

  • Could this activity fit into another program / series you are running?
  • How will you pick datasets to be relevant for your community?
  • How could you make this a drop-in activity?

Below are a few examples of datasets or news stories you could use with your participants (last updated April 29, 2020):

A gallery of different data sculptures people made to represent a variety of things, including shirt color, hometown, and distance from the library. Participants used arts and crafts supplies as well as found materials like a used chip bag.
A gallery of different data sculptures people made to represent a variety of things, including shirt color, hometown, and distance from the library. Participants used arts and crafts supplies as well as found materials like a used chip bag.
Close-up of a sculpture using a paper cup and different colored pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks to represent the shirt colors in the room.
Close-up of a sculpture using a paper cup and different colored pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks to represent the shirt colors in the room.

About PLIX DataBasic

This activity was developed as part of a 2018 PLIX Residency Exchange between Rahul Bhargava from the Center for Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab and Amanda Feist and Xenia Hernandez from Saint Paul Public Library.

Other ways to engage with the PLIX DataBasic program:

  • Questions? Ask them on the PLIX Discussion Forum πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ
  • Share your experience running this workshop on social media using #PLIXDataBasic 😎

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The Public Library Innovation Exchange (PLIX) is a project of the MIT Media Lab Digital Learning & Collaboration Studio. Except where otherwise noted, all materials on this site are licensed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license. Accessibility.