Overview

DataBasic is a set of tools and experiences designed to foster a culture of data in your local community. This activity is inspired by the work of one of our PLIX residency exchange teams. In 2018, Media Lab researcher Rahul Bhargava from the Center for Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab worked with Amanda Feist and Xenia Hernandezβ€”two librarians from Saint Paul Public Libraryβ€”to create activities that help patrons feel comfortable telling meaningful stories with data.

Workshops at a Glance

  • Analog Spreadsheet ℹ️ – Participants co-create a dataset by filling out a large paper spreadsheet with some information about them. It's a great activity to get patrons thinking about data and privacy, as well as an opportunity for them to get to know each other!
  • Data Sculptures πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ¨ – Build sculptures that tell a simple data story with craft materials! The playful approach in this activity helps participants feel more freedom and flexibility when it comes to data-related presentations.

What we ❀️ about this activity

  • Fosters a welcoming environment to learn data literacy. These activities have been designed to provide learners of all ages with new skills to interpret and understand data in familiar and approachable ways.
  • Supports important conversations around data privacy, consent, and ethics.
  • Offers the chance to explore data through creation. Activities encourage hands-on crafting and encourage participants to think beyond charts and graphs as ways of representing information.
  • Encourages peer collaboration and discussion. Participants work together to interpret and tell stories with data.
  • Promotes civic engagement, as participants learn and interact with locally relevant news, information, and datasets.

Ideas for bringing these workshops to your library

  • Pick out datasets or questions that correspond to a theme or upcoming holiday, like climate data for Earth Month or candy data for Halloween πŸ‘»
  • Adapt the activities for a drop-in style public event where patrons can participate by adding to a community sculpture or spreadsheet as they go by 🎨
  • Try these activities with your staff or colleagues as a professional development opportunity to become more familiar with working with and talking about data 🀝

Try it!

On our PLIX Activity Repository, you'll find the full documentation for DataBasic activities! All of our PLIX activities include background information, materials lists, workshop guides, and facilitator resources.


We think it’s important to share what we’re making so anyone can get started with creative STEAM learning. All of our PLIX learning materials are openly licensed (CC-BY-SA 4.0) and free to download.

Share your experience running these workshops on the PLIX Discussion Forum or on social media using #PLIXDataBasic πŸ’Ύ