7.3. Visualizing Data

This lesson introduces students to data manipulation and visualization using Google spreadsheets and Google My Maps. Students will follow tutorials to learn how to import data and create visualizations of it. These tools will be used in the next lesson where students explore a data set of their own choosing.

Professional Development

The Student Lesson: Complete the activities for Mobile CSP Unit 7: Lesson 7.3 Visualizing Data.


  • Computer lab
  • Access to Google Drive and Google Maps

7.3.1. Learning Activities

Estimated Length: 45 minutes

  • Hook/Motivation (5 minutes): Using the animated gif image from census.gov or another data visualization of your own choice, put the graphic of the data on the projector and ask the students these questions about it:
    • What is the data shown in this visualization?
    • What type of data is used — text, numbers, geocodes, date and time, etc.?
    • What conclusions can you draw from the data?
    • How is the data presented in the visualization that makes it easy to understand and use?
    • What are the drawbacks of this visualization?
    Explanation: There is an information explosion going on (recall Blown to Bits Chapter 1) and large sets of information are becoming more accessible to the public (recall Big Data). Computers provide powerful tools to process all of this information. It's important in the 21st century to be conversant with these tools and to be able to use them to gain knowledge and insight. Google spreadsheets and Google Maps can help to manipulate and visualize large data sets. The way in which data is manipulated can influence interpretation. For example, a graph of test scores can help individuals make conclusions quicker and more easily than a table with test scores. This is because a graph allows individuals to visually notice trends in the data.
  • Experiences and Explorations (30 minutes):
    • Activity Intro: Explain the instructions for today's class. Students will follow the student tutorials to answer the questions working in pairs.
    • Activity 1: May be done as a class or in pairs
    • Activity 2: Have the students follow to create formulas and charts with the given data set on butterflies using Google Sheets.
    • Activity 3: Have students create a map of the data using Google My Maps following the tutorial. Here's a possible solution
  • Rethink, Reflect and/or Revise (10 minutes): Have students complete their reflection in their portfolios.

AP Classroom

The College Board's AP Classroom provides a question bank and Topic Questions. You may create a formative assessment quiz in AP Classroom, assign the quiz (a set of questions), and then review the results in class to identify and address any student misunderstandings. The following are suggested topic questions that you could assign once students have completed this lesson.

Suggested Topic Questions:

  • Topic 2.4 Using Programs with Data

Assessment Opportunities


Assessment Opportunities

You can examine students’ work on the interactive exercise and their reflection portfolio entries to assess their progress on the following learning objectives. If students are able to do what is listed there, they are ready to move on to the next lesson.

  • Interactive Exercises:
  • Portfolio Reflections:
    LO X.X.X - Students should be able to ...
  • In the XXX App, look for:

Differentiation: More Practice

If students are struggling with lesson concepts, have them review the following resources:

Differentiation: Enrichment

Students can explore the data sets and create additional visualizations. Here is a Google My Maps Tutorials using shark spotting data. In Unit 9, there is also an optional app using Google Fusion Tables.

(Optional) Voter Registration lesson from the Civic Knowledge and Action Project in collaboration with the College Board. This optional lesson plan develops students' understanding of how to use programs to process voter registration and turnout data to discover information and create new knowledge. The materials map to skills 2.B and 5.B in the AP Computer Science Principles Course and Exam Description.

Background Knowledge

7.3.2. Professional Development Reflection

Discuss the following questions with other teachers in your professional development program.

    I am confident I can teach this lesson to my students.
  • 1. Strongly Agree
  • 2. Agree
  • 3. Neutral
  • 4. Disagree
  • 5. Strongly Disagree