In this lesson, students will conduct a small amount of research to explore a computing innovation that leverages the use of data. Students will research a topic of personal interest and respond to questions about about how that innovation produces, uses, or consumes data. The lesson is intended to give students practice with doing research of this nature and provides a small amount of scaffolding to help students figure out what to look for. This lesson is intended to be a quick, short version of a performance task in which students rapidly do some research and respond in writing. It might take two class days, but it should not take more. The primary goal is to generate ideas for exploration later when students complete the actual Explore PT later in the year.



Students will be able to:


The purpose is to allow students to be able to research modern computing innovations and gain insight into how those innovations are using data is a key skill of computer scientists. This is the first lesson in which students are asked to look at how data is used in a modern computing innovation. Students will learn to look at how data is used with an increasingly critical eye, but this lesson merely sets the table. Having intuitions about how data is used, or how it's not used, can improve one's judgment about modern technology and other innovations that increasingly use, produce, and rely on massive amounts of data to do their work.


Activity Guides

Getting Started

One of the things that many modern innovations have in common is their use of data (often Big Data, but not always). To explore how innovations use data more in-depth, you will be completing a rapid research project on a "data innovation" of your choosing. Get excited! This is your opportunity to dig deeper into a computing topic that has piqued your interest over the entire course. Choose one of the following videos to watch and/or listen to with the purpose of helping the students understand how computer science is helping the world and helping the students develop ideas of research topics on the upcoming rapid research project. The rapid research project is to explore how innovations use data.

Now that the students have some ideas on the impact of computer science, discuss the following:

The rapid research project mimics some of the things the students have to do for the Explore Performance Task and will be a useful preparation. In particular, the Explore Performance Task asks the students to:


First off, go over the one-pager template and rubric. Students may assume that more is required of them than is actually the case. Also emphasize that they do not need to create their artifact themselves, but it must still meet the requirements of this project. Point out that the written component is quite short. They probably have space for 100-150 words per response.

Choose Innovation, Read and Research

Guide the students through the following:

Prepare a One-Pager

Wrap Up

Presentation (Optional)

If time allows, students should share their one-pagers with one another. The class may also create a "Data Innovations Museum" by posting links to all their documents in single shared document or use other means to share their documents.


Have students use the rubric provided with the Activity Guide to peer assess the one-pager or have the instructor assess the one-pager or have the students do the AP Practice below.

The AP Explore Performance task requires the students to provide short written responses about an innovation that they researched. Practice an AP response by responding the prompt above, summarizing the data innovation the students researched for this lesson. Their first sentence should name the innovation they are writing about. Here are portions of the AP writing prompts to consider:

  1. Using specific details, describe: the data your innovation uses
  2. Using specific details, describe: how the innovation consumes (as input), produces (as output), and/or transforms data

Standards Alignment