by Anna-Claire Bousquet, Keim Center library intern
Students in seventh-grade world geography classes have been examining modern issues in Central America, South America and the Caribbean. They explored a wide range of topics, including deforestation, drug-trafficking and the aftermath of natural disasters. They then brainstormed focus areas as a class and chose what topic they wanted to concentrate on for their individual research.
To carry out this research, the geography teachers partnered with the Keim Center library team. Library Services Director Angela Finn helped with planning and introducing the project. Library Assistant Maria Ramusevic introduced students to the notecard feature in NoodleTools and helped students find answers to their toughest research questions. I focused on introducing students to techniques for visualizing data and best practices for creating infographics.
As part of their infographics, students had to create their own original chart or graph using data from Gapminder and the online spreadsheet program Google Sheets. Gapminder is an education tool that compiles student-friendly data from governments and nonprofits all in one place. Students had to locate an appropriate data set for their topic, download it into Google Sheets, clean and format the data, and then create a chart or graph to represent the data they found. They used a wide variety of data sets to create pie charts, line graphs, bar graphs and geo charts. These data visualizations then served as a key part of students’ infographics.
After conducting background research on their countries in the Keim Center library databases and utilizing data from Gapminder or other high-quality sources, students had to synthesize all of the information they gathered into an infographic. I introduced them to the basics of Canva, an excellent free graphic design tool that is available online. Students adapted templates and used the principles of design to create infographics that presented their research in an engaging and highly visual way.
Through this project, students became versed in a contemporary issue of their choice, strengthened their research skills, expanded their knowledge of NoodleTools and learned two useful programs: Google Sheets and Canva. As students presented the results of their hard work virtually, it was wonderful to see the power of a strong collaboration between faculty members and the library team.
In 2018, the Library and Technology Center was reimagined to fit the evolving needs of our students. The Keim Center for Innovation and Research was born. Read the history of this project here.