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Making Sense of Data

Being able to manage, manipulate and analyse large datasets is a new form of numeracy that all students will benefit from. You don't need to be a data nerd for this session, just have an interest in making sense of data so you can turn it into information. This session will cover concepts and tools that will be extremely useful for maths, science, and social science teachers. This session is based on the recent online course (MOOC) of the same name run by Google. 

In this workshop you will learn how to import, manipulate and analyse large sets of data using Fusion Tables (and maybe even some spreadsheets too). If you're not familiar with them, Fusion Tables are pretty incredible for managing data and digging into the meaning behind the numbers.

This workshop is a taster, based on a condensed version of the Making Sense of Data course, and will help you understand some of the key concepts. The actual course is still available online at  If you find this session interesting, I recommend you go and do the whole course with the Google Data team!

These exercises are directly from Google's official Making Sense of Data course. Clicking the links below will take you to some of the units on that site to work through the actual course content.

Unit 2 - Answering Basic Questions with Fusion Tables

In this unit, we will look at some statistics for a hypothetical tea and coffee business looking to expand into the Russian market. You will attempt to answer the primary question "How should you invest your resources in order to grow your business in Russia?

You will learn to...
  • Understand basic data analysis techniques
  • Select the right charts to use for analysis
  • Create and analyse charts
  • Create summaries with category variables
  • Analyse summaries
  • Use filters to narrow down the values in a table

Unit 3 - Finding Patterns and Relationships in Data

In this activity, you are going to practice using more advanced analysis techniques in order to understand the factors influencing the loss of forest area in the world. 

In this activity, you will learn to...
  • Identify variables required for analysis
  • Merge data tables together
  • Perform a drill-down analysis
  • Estimate values with prediction analysis
  • Create maps and look for geographic patterns
  • Select visuals to communicate the analysis
We won't get all of this done in a single workshop session, but if you found this useful and interesting, I strongly suggest you check out the entire Making Sense of Data course and do the whole thing!

Finding Data to play with

There are several places you can find datasets online. Of course, you should be aware that the success of your results will to a large extent depend on the quality of the data you can get your hands on. There is TONS of data out there just waiting for you to dig into it!

Here's a few places to start...
You can learn more about the ideal and principles behind open data at...