Saturday, March 5, 2011

Crowdsourcing Jr. Classroom Activity

Here's a great idea for students
going out and collecting data!
I read this article "Smart phones foster dumb habits among pedestrians" today and realized that students could do a similar investigation to the the author of this article did.
"One too many times stepping around a shuffling pedestrian immersed in e-mail led me to conduct a social experiment. I decided to count the number of people I saw distracted by their electronic devices during my 25-minute morning walk to work from New York's Grand Central Terminal to the far west side." -David Bauder
It doesn't have to be exactly the same thing if your location doesn't lend itself to observing people on cell phones. But I think you get the idea of what I'm after: kids doing research/data collecting in order to answer a question that interests them.

Here's another example that might not be as interesting to kids, but is on the right track:
Brian Lehrer a PBS host of a call-in radio show started (according to him) an informal, unofficial, thoroughly unscientific crowd sourcing experiment to determine the price of milk in NYC. The blurb for the radio/pod broadcast segment was:
"Our next "crowdsourcing" project sets out to look at how the prices of a pre-determined basket of goods differ throughout the New York area. We plan to ask listeners to investigate the prices in their local stores, or stores in any other neighborhood, to get a snapshot of prices. We're still trying to select the three goods, and we're inviting listeners to collaborate with us at this early stage. What are the most representative products? Milk, eggs, flour, breakfast cereal? Let us know on the air and in the comments section."
I've been a long time fan & practitioner of trying to find interesting things from the media to motivate my math lessons and sometimes I'm even successful.

It can be a perfect vehicle for the "do now" panacea that Everyday Math and other current textbooks have popularized and taken to new level by Dan Meyer and company which you can follow at the hashtag #wcydwt on Twitter.