Lesson 4: Rapid Research - Data Innovations


In this lesson students will conduct a small amount of research to explore a computing innovation that leverages the use of data. Students will research a topic of personal interest and respond to questions about about how that innovation produces, uses, or consumes data. The lesson is intended to give students practice with doing research of this nature and provides a small amount of scaffolding to help students figure out what to look for.

This lesson is intended to be a quick, short version of a performance task in which students rapidly do some research and respond in writing. It might take 2 class days but should not take more. The goal is to generate ideas for exploration later when students complete the actual Explore PT later in the year.


Being able to research modern computing innovations and gain insight into how those innovations are using data is a key skill of computer scientists. This is the first lesson in which students are asked to look at how data is used in a modern computing innovation. Students will learn to look at how data is used with an increasingly critical eye, but this lesson merely sets the table. Having intuitions about how data is used, or how it’s not used, can improve one’s judgment about modern technology and other innovations that increasingly use, produce, and rely on massive amounts of data to do their work.


Getting Started (10-15 mins)

Activity (90 mins)

Wrap Up (5-30 mins)


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Students will be able to:

  • Identify a suitable computing innovation for a research project.
  • Identify reliable and authoritative sources of information about a computing innovation.
  • Synthesize information taken from multiple online sources to create a cohesive description of a computing innovation.
  • Explain how data drives a specific innovation, both in writing and visually.


Heads Up! Please make a copy of any documents you plan to share with students.

For the Students


  • One-pager - A business/corporate term for a one-page document that summarizes a large issue, topic or plan.

Teaching Guide

Getting Started (10-15 mins)

Video - Motivating the research

Goal: Develop some ideas (and excitement) about the rapid research project

Video: Show, or have students watch, one of the following videos:

The purpose is simply to motivate the upcoming research.


One of the things that many modern innovations have in common is their use of data (often Big Data, but not always). To explore how innovations use data more in depth you will be completing a rapid research project on a “data innovation” of your choosing.

Get excited! This is your opportunity to dig deeper into a computing topic that has piqued your interest over the entire course.

  • What kinds of things are you interested in?
  • How does computing affect them?
  • How is data used to make innovations you’re interested in actually work?

The project mimics some of the things you have to do for the Explore Performance Task and will be useful preparation. In particular the Explore Performance Task asks you to:

  • Research a modern computing innovation.
  • Explain how it uses, produces, or consumes data.

This is exactly what you’ll be doing today!

Activity (90 mins)

Rapid Research - Data Innovations

Distribute: Rapid Research - Data Innovations - Activity Guide and Data Innovation One-Pager - Template and review as a class.

Teaching Tip

Differences from the actual Explore PT: The actual Explore Performance Task will be completed over 8 class hours. The fact that this schedule is significantly shorter reflects several differences in this Practice PT.

  • Some categories and topics have been supplied ahead of time.
  • The visual students are using does not have to be an original computational artifact

Below is a suggested schedule for completing the project.

Day 1 - Choose Innovation, Read and Research

Review Activity Guide and Rubric:

At the beginning of the project, emphasize the importance of reviewing the one-pager template and rubric. Students may assume that more is required of them than is actually the case.

In particular, emphasize that they do not need to create their artifact themselves, but it must still meet the requirements of this project. Point out that the written component is quite short. They probably have space for 100-150 words per response.

Choosing Your Innovation: It is recommended that you place a time limit on this process (e.g. 20 minutes). Students should not leave class after the first day without a topic in mind and ideally with some resources identified. Luckily, in choosing their topics, students will likely have begun to identify resources they can use in completing their project.

Conducting Your Research: This document is intended to serve primarily as a guide to students for identifying online sources of information. The skill students need to develop is identifying useful resources on their own and then synthesizing this information. Being presented with a structured way of doing this means students will have a model for how to complete their research when completing the actual Explore PT.

The "Key Information to Find" highlights specific terminology from the Explore PT that students will benefit from having seen earlier in the course.

Day 2 - Prepare one-pager

Identify a Visual: Students need to identify a visual artifact (image, visualization, drawing, chart, video, interview, etc.) that gives some additional insight into their innovation. Students DO NOT need to make this visual themselves. The goal is to effectively use a visual to communicate information about a technical topic.

Complete One-Pager: Students should find this aspect of their project most familiar. The prompts are similar in style and content to prompts students have already seen. Emphasize the need for clarity in their writing, and remind them that everything must fit on a single page. If they have responded completely to each of the prompts, it is fine to write less.

Sharing/Submission: You may want to collect students’ one-pagers, have them share in small groups, or with the whole class. Since students were researching something of their own choosing, they might be eager to show what they found out.

Wrap Up (5-30 mins)

Presentation (Optional)

If time allows, students may wish to have an opportunity to share their one-pagers with one another. Consider other options like creating a “Data Innovations Museum” by posting links to all their documents in single shared document. Or even print them out and post them in the room to be reviewed in a gallery walk.


  • Use the rubric provided with the Activity Guide to assess the one-pagers.
  • Data and Medicine
  • 2
  • (click tabs to see student view)
  • CS is Changing Everything
  • 3
  • (click tabs to see student view)
  • Check Your Understanding
  • 4
  • (click tabs to see student view)
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Student Instructions

AP Practice

The AP Explore Performance task requires you to provide short written responses about an innovation that you research. Here are portions of the AP writing prompts to consider:

Using specific details, describe:
• the data your innovation uses;
• how the innovation consumes (as input), produces (as output), and/or transforms data

Practice an AP response by responding the prompt above, summarizing the data innovation you researched for this lesson. Your first sentence should name the innovation you are writing about.

Standards Alignment

View full course alignment

Computer Science Principles

1.2 - Computing enables people to use creative development processes to create computational artifacts for creative expression or to solve a problem.
1.2.3 - Create a new computational artifact by combining or modifying existing artifacts. [P2]
  • 1.2.3C - Combining or modifying existing artifacts can show personal expression of ideas.
1.2.5 - Analyze the correctness, usability, functionality, and suitability of computational artifacts. [P4]
  • 1.2.5A - The context in which an artifact is used determines the correctness, usability, functionality, and suitability of the artifact.
  • 1.2.5D - The suitability (or appropriateness) of a computational artifact may be related to how it is used or perceived.
3.2 - Computing facilitates exploration and the discovery of connections in information.
3.2.2 - Use large data sets to explore and discover information and knowledge. [P3]
  • 3.2.2A - Large data sets include data such as transactions, measurements, text, sound, images, and video.
  • 3.2.2B - The storing, processing, and curating of large data sets is challenging.
  • 3.2.2C - Structuring large data sets for analysis can be challenging.
  • 3.2.2D - Maintaining privacy of large data sets containing personal information can be challenging.
  • 3.2.2E - Scalability of systems is an important consideration when data sets are large.
  • 3.2.2F - The size or scale of a system that stores data affects how that data set is used.
  • 3.2.2G - The effective use of large data sets requires computational solutions.
  • 3.2.2H - Analytical techniques to store, manage, transmit, and process data sets change as the size of data sets scale.
7.1 - Computing enhances communication, interaction, and cognition.
7.1.1 - Explain how computing innovations affect communication, interaction, and cognition. [P4]
  • 7.1.1D - Cloud computing fosters new ways to communicate and collaborate.
  • 7.1.1E - Widespread access to information facilitates the identification of problems, development of solutions, and dissemination of results.
  • 7.1.1F - Public data provides widespread access and enables solutions to identified problems.
  • 7.1.1G - Search trends are predictors.
  • 7.1.1H - Social media, such as blogs and Twitter, have enhanced dissemination.
  • 7.1.1I - Global Positioning System (GPS) and related technologies have changed how humans travel, navigate, and find information related to geolocation.
  • 7.1.1J - Sensor networks facilitate new ways of interacting with the environment and with physical systems.
  • 7.1.1K - Smart grids, smart buildings, and smart transportation are changing and facilitating human capabilities.
  • 7.1.1L - Computing contributes to many assistive technologies that enhance human capabilities.
  • 7.1.1M - The Internet and the Web have enhanced methods of and opportunities for communication and collaboration.
  • 7.1.1N - The Internet and the Web have changed many areas, including ecommerce, health care, access to information and entertainment, and online learning.
  • 7.1.1O - The Internet and the Web have impacted productivity, positively and negatively, in many areas.
7.4 - Computing innovations influence and are influenced by the economic, social, and cultural contexts in which they are designed and used.
7.4.1 - Explain the connections between computing and economic, social, and cultural contexts. [P1]
  • 7.4.1A - The innovation and impact of social media and online access is different in different countries and in different socioeconomic groups.
  • 7.4.1B - Mobile, wireless, and networked computing have an impact on innovation throughout the world.
  • 7.4.1C - The global distribution of computing resources raises issues of equity, access, and power.
  • 7.4.1D - Groups and individuals are affected by the “digital divide” — differing access to computing and the Internet based on socioeconomic or geographic characteristics.
  • 7.4.1E - Networks and infrastructure are supported by both commercial and governmental initiatives.
7.5 - An investigative process is aided by effective organization and selection of resources. Appropriate technologies and tools facilitate the accessing of information and enable the ability to evaluate the credibility of sources.
7.5.2 - Evaluate online and print sources for appropriateness and credibility [P5]
  • 7.5.2A - Determining the credibility of a soruce requires considering and evaluating the reputation and credentials of the author(s), publisher(s), site owner(s), and/or sponsor(s).
  • 7.5.2B - Information from a source is considered relevant when it supports an appropriate claim or the purpose of the investigation

CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (2017)

DA - Data & Analysis
  • 3B-DA-05 - Use data analysis tools and techniques to identify patterns in data representing complex systems.
IC - Impacts of Computing
  • 3A-IC-24 - Evaluate the ways computing impacts personal, ethical, social, economic, and cultural practices.