fter the earthquake and tsunami in Japan it was apparent that general knowledge about nuclear energy isn’t so general. Quite a number of people confessed to not understanding it. There is also the fear of the unknown expecting the worst and believing all that they hear.
At my school teachers in grade 8 decided to change the IDU planned and put one together on nuclear energy. Students would take on roles and enter into an open debate at the end of the day. The topic under discussion was to do with Vietnam’s plan to build a nuclear power plant. Should we go ahead.
Science, languages, humanities and mathematics teamed up.
In mathematics I asked them what they knew and what they wanted to know. Then we set about getting the data to help create a clearer picture. Before the day set aside for group work and then the forum my class had three lessons to discuss, research and throw together a data visualisation about nuclear energy or what happened in Japan.
Students looked at energy consumption and production. They have cited their sources and have produced some pretty good visualisations, especially considering the time.
This is the link to the IDU wiki, on wikispaces, where you can see how it was all put together. I can’t take credit for it as I was in India at a wedding. Upon returing to Hanoi I checked my emails, saw the plan and said my class would be up for joining in.
We spoke about data visualisation and I showed them some of my favourite sites and we set up a diigo group, where students could bookmark sites they found and used to help them with their research or visualisation ideas. It was also their first time using Diigo or any type of social bookmarking.
They may not be without error, but they are close enough and are confronting. There are even a few standard Excel type charts with one incorrect format, but the idea was to let them choose how to best make an impact. More time to teach and scaffold would have been great, but I wanted to work in conjuction with the IDU and it was current. I am very pleased with the final products, as were the students.
At no point were they directed to any specific software. I just them go.
This wasn’t a stats unit, more a three day intermission into our usual course. If you do teach stats and don’t read The Guardian Data Blog, you’re making your life more difficult. Encourage your students to have a look too.