Lesson 10: Problem Solving with Big Data
In this lesson, students look at how data is collected and used by organizations to solve problems in the real world. The lesson begins with a quick review of the data problem solving process they explored in the last lesson. Then students are presented three scenarios that could be solved using data and brainstorm the types of data they would want to solve them and how they could collect the data. Each problem is designed to reflect a real-world service that exists. After brainstorming, students watch a video about a real-world service and record notes about what data is collected by the real-world service and how it is used. At the end of the lesson, students record whether data was provided actively by a user, was recorded passively, or is collected by sensors.
In this lesson students see three examples of how the data problem solving process is used to solve real-world problems. This lesson expands the types of problems students think of as data problems and helps them to relate what they know about data to their real world experiences with common Internet services. The examples also provide an opportunity to reflect on the fact that in their own lives they are intentionally and unintentionally producing data that companies collect and use.
Give examples of how data is collected from sensors and tracking user behavior.
Activity Guide, page 2: There should be multiple examples of tracking user behavior and sensor data in the second and third columns of the chart.
Determine data that would be helpful in solving a problem, and how that data could be collected.
Activity Guide: On each page, there should be reasonable descriptions of relevant data and how it could be collected. These do not need to be the same as the data actually collected by the companies, but should be relevant to the given problem and possible to collect.
Distinguish between data that users intentionally and unintentionally produce.
Activity Guide, page 2: The first and second columns should give multiple examples of data that has been actively and passively collected.
Warm Up (5 mins)
Activity (40 mins)
Wrap Up (10 mins)
Students will be able to:
- Give examples of how data is collected from sensors and tracking user behavior.
- Determine data that would be helpful in solving a problem, and how that data could be collected.
- Distinguish between data that users intentionally and unintentionally produce.
- Print copies of the activity guide
- Prepare projector if you will show videos to the whole class
Heads Up! Please make a copy of any documents you plan to share with students.
For the Teachers
- Amazon Video - Video (download)
- Waze Video - Video (download)
- Netflix Video - Video (download)
- Data in the Real World - Exemplar
For the Students
- Data in the Real World - Activity Guide
Attention, teachers! If you are teaching virtually or in a socially-distanced classroom, please read the full lesson plan below, then click here to access the modifications.
Warm Up (5 mins)
Prompt: In the last lesson, we looked at the data problem solving process using data that we found on the Internet. We didn't worry about how that data got online. There are lots of ways that apps, companies, or governments might collect data, though. What ways to collect data are you already aware of?
Goal: This is primarily a brainstorm. Some students may bring a lot more prior knowledge than others to the class and at this point they haven’t been explicitly taught anything about data collection outside of surveys. Aim primarily just to get ideas out and set the stage for the lesson. You’re aiming to change focus from surveys that 10-20 people take to the vast amounts of data they might know is collected by modern technological tools.
Discuss: Have students brainstorm their ideas before sharing with the class. You can record their ideas on the board to refer back to later in the class.
Great work. Today we’re going to look at some real-world examples of how data is collected to solve problems. Keep an eye out for these ideas and think about whether you’re seeing any new ones.
Activity (40 mins)
Group: Students may complete this activity individually or in pairs.
Distribute: Give students copies of activity guide
Data in the Real World
Accessing Videos: It's recommended that the class watch the videos in this lesson together on a large screen or projector. They can be found in their own levels on Code Studio. Students also have access to these videos and so if they wish can watch them on their own too.
Introduce students to the "Web Pix" problem as defined on the first page. Give students a few minutes to write down their ideas and/or share them with a partner. Let students know that they will not be able to answer the question about Netflix yet. If students finish early, ask them to think of other types of data and how they could be collected.
Allow students to quickly share out some ideas, then introduce the Netflix video.
Many companies, such as YouTube, Facebook and Netflix, recommend videos and posts to users based on the data that they have collected about them. We're going to watch a short video about how Netflix does this. Pay attention to Netflix collects data to help it recommend good videos.
Goal: Students should understand that Netflix bases its suggestions not only on the survey data that users create, but also on the behavior of users as they use the site, such as what they watch and the ratings they give various videos.
Discuss: Allow students to share with a partner, then discuss with a group the types of data that Netflix collects to help it make recommendations.
Ask students to move on to the Routz problem. Again, they should take a few minutes to work individually or in pairs on the first two problems. After students have shared in their pairs, introduce the Waze video.
Goal: Students should note that while some data is being intentially added by the users, Waze also collects GPS/location data on each user without the user's active input. Sensor data, such as time, temperature, and location, are automatically collected by computers without a user actively adding them.
Discuss: Allow students to share with a partner, then lead a short discussion on the types of data that Waze collects to help it find the best route.
Ask students to move on to the Nyle problem. Again, they should take a few minutes to work individually or in pairs on the first two problems. After students have shared in their pairs, introduce the Amazon video.
Goal: There are a few different aspects of the Amazon video that may be of interest.
- Just looking at something online produces data that can be used by advertisers or others.
- Amazon decides what you might buy by looking at similar users and using their behavior to predict yours
- Different types of data, such as "clicks", "likes" and "purchases", may be weighted differently
- The user's needs are not the priority. The advertiser's needs are.
Any of these topics are relevant to the lesson, but the most important thing for students to realize is that they are not always aware when they are producing data.
Discuss: Allow students to share with a partner, then lead a short discussion on the types of data that Amazon collects to help it find the best products to suggest.
Review the different ways that data can be collected.
We've found lots of different ways that the computer can collect data. In general, data can be collected automatically from sensors, as the Waze app collects GPS data; it can be collected from users who are intending to produce data, as when people rate Netflix videos; and it can be collected from users who are not intended to produce data, as when Amazon records which products you look at.
Types of Data Collection: Ask students to fill out the chart at the bottom of the page that categorizes the different types of data. Afterwards, allow students to compare their answers.
Wrap Up (10 mins)
Journal: Today we looked at three companies that collect data to solve problems. Brainstorm some other websites, apps, or companies you use or know about. What data are they collecting? How are they using it to solve a problem?
Goal: This prompt is meant to help students make connections between their personal experiences with data collecting services and what they have learned in this lesson. The goal here is to connect the examples students saw in today’s lesson to other apps, websites, or services that they may be aware of. If you need to prompt students you might suggest they think of social media websites, media websites, useful apps they or their family uses, etc.
Discuss: Ask students to share their ideas with their classmates.
Today we saw some examples of different sources of data that real-world apps and websites use to solve problems. Websites often ask you directly for data, but they might record your behavior online to collect data as well. In fact sometimes sensors like a GPS signal can collect data without you even knowing it. In the next class we're going to look at how we'll be collecting data for the rest of the unit.
Check that students have answered the first two "Web Pix" questions on their activity guide before showing this video. After the video, they should answer the third question: How does Netflix solve the problem of collecting information about users and videos to make the best recommendation it can for each user?
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Watch this video to learn how this problem is solved by Netflix. As you watch think about what data is being collected and where it's coming from.
Check that students have answered the first two "Routz" questions on their activity guide before showing this video. After the video, they should answer the third question: How does Waze solve the problem of improving its data to give better directions?
Watch this video to learn how this problem is solved by Waze. As you watch think about what data is being collected and where it's coming from.
Check that students have answered the first two "Nyle" questions on their activity guide before showing this video. After the video, they should answer the third question: How does Amazon solve the problem of advertising products only to those people who are likely to buy them?
Watch this video to learn how this problem is solved by Amazon. As you watch think about what data is being collected and where it's coming from.
CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (2017)
IC - Impacts of Computing
- 2-IC-20 - Compare tradeoffs associated with computing technologies that affect people's everyday activities and career options.
- 2-IC-23 - Describe tradeoffs between allowing information to be public and keeping information private and secure.