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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #365749

Research Project: Science and Technologies for the Sustainable Management of Western Rangeland Systems

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Data jams: Promoting data literacy and science engagement while encouraging creativity

item FORSTER, MICHELLE - Cary Institute Of Ecosystem Studies
item BESTELMEYER, STEPHANIE - Asombro Institute For Science Education
item BAEZ-RODRIGUEZ, NOELIA - University Of Puerto Rico
item BERKOWITZ, ALAN - Cary Institute Of Ecosystem Studies
item CAPLAN, BESS - Cary Institute Of Ecosystem Studies
item ESPOSITO, RHEA - Cary Institute Of Ecosystem Studies
item GRACE, ELIZABETH - Asombro Institute For Science Education
item MCGEE, STEVEN - Non ARS Employee

Submitted to: Science Teacher
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/30/2018
Publication Date: 8/3/2018
Citation: Forster, M., Bestelmeyer, S., Baez-Rodriguez, N., Berkowitz, A., Caplan, B., Esposito, R., Grace, E., Mcgee, S. 2018. Data jams: Promoting data literacy and science engagement while encouraging creativity. Science Teacher. 86(2).

Interpretive Summary: The Asombro Institute for Science Education, which coordinates K–12 education programs for the Jornada Basin Long-Term Ecological Research site in New Mexico, organized the first Desert Data Jam in 2012. Inspired by Flip Flop Fly Ball: An Infographic Baseball Adventure (Robinson 2011), Asombro staff wondered if students could use ecological and sociological data to develop creative projects such as the infographics found in the book. The Data Jam model has since spread across the country, reaching thousands of students. Most Data Jams have been sponsored by long-term ecological research (LTER) sites such as the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, Jornada Basin, and Luquillo (Puerto Rico). These sites belong to a network funded by the National Science Foundation to study long-term and largescale ecological phenomena

Technical Abstract: Thousands of students around the country have participated in activities using the Data Jam model, creating poetry, songs, videos, or sculpture to improve their data literacy, gain knowledge of local science research, and creatively express their findings. This article introduces the Data Jam model and how teachers can use it in classroom or after-school settings, supported by vignettes of student projects and feedback from teachers and students. Data is the lens through which we increasingly view our world, and scientific data literacy skills are a key component of the Next Generation Science Standards’ (NGSS) science and engineering practices (Berkowitz, Ford, and Brewer 2005). Understanding how to engage with data, however, can be challenging for students. Most have limited experience with authentic scientific data sets, and find them complex and intimidating. Clear, creative communication is crucial to helping students (and the general public) understand data and scientific findings. Interest in creative and artistic science communication tools has increased, as evidenced by the proliferation of projects such as the SciShow YouTube video series and the Dance Your Ph.D. contest from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (see “On the web.”) Inspired by this movement, four science education organizations have developed the Data Jam model to engage high school students in learning about ecological research while igniting their creativity. Students analyze and interpret environmental data sets, then communicate their findings through a creative medium. This approach also supports the STEM to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) movement, which was initially championed by the Rhode Island School of Design as a way to capitalize on the creative synergy between art and scientific disciplines.