Urban Data in the primary classroom: bringing data literacy to the UK curriculum

Annika Wolff, Jose J Cavero Montaner, Gerd Kortuem


As data becomes established as part of everyday life, the ability for the average citizen to have some level of data literacy is increasingly important.  This paper describes an approach to teaching data skills in schools using real life, complex, urban data sets collected as part of a smart city project. The approach is founded on the premise that young learners have the ability to work with complex data sets if they are supported in the right way and if the tasks are grounded in a real life context. Narrative principles are used to frame the task, to assist interpretation and tell stories from data and to structure queries of datasets. An inquiry-based methodology organises the activities.  This paper describes the initial trial in a UK primary school in which twelve students aged 9-10 years learnt about home energy consumption and the generation of solar energy from home solar PV, by interpreting existing visualisations of smart meter data and data obtained from aerial survey. Additional trials are scheduled with older learners which will evaluate learners on more challenging data handling tasks. The trials are informing the development of the Urban Data School, a web-based platform designed to support teaching data skills in schools in order to improve data literacy among school leavers.

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The Journal of Community Informatics. ISSN: 1712-4441