7.2. Big Data

This lesson includes a series of videos that lay the groundwork for the unit's exploration of data and information. Specifically, it reviews the history of data storage, data sizes, processing large data sets, and the use of data to support innovation in other fields. Students should develop an understanding of how computing enables discovery of connections in information.

Professional Development

The Student Lesson: Complete the activities for Mobile CSP Unit 7: Lesson 7.2 Big Data.


7.2.1. Learning Activities

Estimated Length: 45 minutes

  • Hook/Motivation (5 minutes): Ask students to guess how many tweets are made per day, hour, minute, second. Show the Twitter Usage Statistics page after they've guessed. Explain that this is an example of big data and the page includes various visualizations of that data.
  • Experiences and Explorations (30 minutes):
    • Video Presentation (5 minutes): Show one or two of the following videos on big data. Have students work in pairs to come up with a definition for big data.
      • The Economist Video (2:20) - Narrated slide show, emphasizes exponential growth.
      • Link Analytics (3:05) - Fast moving overview with lots of quantitative facts, electronic soundtrack, commercial ending.
      • TedTalk: The best stats you've ever seen (19:53) - The first few minutes emphasize the need to communicate effectively with data. Uses the gapminder data set.
      • Explaining Big Data (8:32) - Narrated, animated slide show, includes coverage of Hadoop starting at 4:13.
    • Slide Presentation (25 minutes): Present the material in the slide deck (or show the associated videos). Discuss how their definitions (and understanding) may have changed. Have students complete the self-check exercises after each video (as a class or in pairs).
    • Activity (10 minutes): Have the students explore the data sets and answer their portfolio reflection questions about that data set. (More data sets are linked below under Additional Resources)
  • Rethink, Reflect and/or Revise (5 minutes): Ask students to share their portfolio reflections. Focus the discussion around the amount of data, the structure of the data, how the data is visualized, and any security or privacy concerns about the data.

Additional Resources

  • Students can install the SETI@Home screensaver on their laptops to help search for extraterrestrial civilizations by letting their computer be used to search through radio astronomy data when it's not being used. Another example of citizen science would be the Folding@Home screensaver, which helps scientists search large datasets for cures for Alzheimers and other diseases.
  • CS Bits & Bytes: Big Data - Includes some activities on relationships between data (coefficients)
  • Forbes article "Making Sense of Big Data With Virtual Reality And The Unconscious Mind" - includes videos as well
  • Other data sets to explore:
    • Science (Large Hadron Collider, astronomical data, the human genome project, NASA climate project)
    • Government (Data.gov)
    • The private sector (Amazon, Walmart, Facebook)
    • Housing Data (www.zillow.com)
    • Interactive Data Visualizations - these are not necessarily big data, but give examples of ways people can interact with and visualize data
    • Interactive global climate change - this visualization tool from the New York Times lets you explore how much warmer various cities (over 5000 around the globe) were in 2016, the warmest year on record.
  • PBS NewsHour: How Data Drives Uber's Efficient but Controversial Business Model (05/02/2019)

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:

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 ...

Background Knowledge: Big Data

  • Wikipedia article on Big Data
  • Wikipedia article on Terabytes
  • The September 2014 CSTA Voice issue includes an article addressing data sources and other teaching resources related to data (based in the social sciences)

7.2.2. 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

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