|Olympics Data Handling Project |
Aims and background, with example sheet
Background to the project
The project was initiated and organised entirely by e-mail. On September 10, Colette Cotton, ICT co-ordinator at St Mary's Folkestone, e-mailed the Kent Teachers list with details of the Sydney Olympics 'Kids' site. Colette then submitted some teaching ideas, prompting me to search for records of past Games. I sent an invitation via the list for schools to take part in the project (at two weeks' notice!) and received four firm replies.
All four schools had already planned work around the Olympics, making it easier to integrate ICT. One school had organised a home-school project on the Olympics. Children had found things out using Encarta and the Internet, and were well-informed about the events. Three of the four schools have new ICT suites. Teachers were particularly interested in developing the use of data handling in whole class teaching in the networked ICT room.
Prior to the Olympics fortnight, I prepared the Excel workbook and e-mailed it to the schools. There was an immediate difficulty in that Excel treated the years 1896, 1900 etc. as numbers, not category labels. I found the solution through the Kent Teachers list - this feature is not explained in Excel on-screen help. (See the next page for the solution.)
Teachers began to e-mail each other with ideas for a range of curriculum activities related to the Games. During the week beginning September 25, while the track and field events were taking place, I spent time in each school, either teaching the class or observing lessons that had already been planned to use the data.
The large display was a predominant feature of the teaching approach. One teacher was already using a data projector. I took one into the other classrooms to support my teaching. After an initial introduction to the whole class, groups worked on their own graphs, labelling and printing then writing a report on their findngs from the graph.
I had typed data for selected events into the workbook in view of the short notice. Teachers had very little time to prepare for the activity. However, at Darenth Primary School, two teachers had already begun using the data in class lessons. They felt it was important to begin with children typing in data themselves, as they had no previous experience of spreadsheets, and needed to understand how the data has got there. This enabled pupils to gain a feel for the data.
Before using graphs or formulae, they had already determined some of the facts. For instance, they knew which was the longest jump from looking down the list. They showed a good understanding of what to expect from the graph.
Example spreadsheet, with a typical graph