Large, complex data sets related to critical issues such as climate change, COVID-19, and wealth gaps are becoming increasingly accessible to the public. Yet few schools teach youth how to interpret and make sense of these data sets. There is an urgent need to support pre-K–16 teachers in improving data science education to foster students’ data literacy and ability to use data to guide informed decision-making.

In Building Insights Through Observation, EDC is collaborating with the Nurture Nature Center and J. Sickler Consulting to address this need. Together, the partners are researching how middle school science teachers can successfully use arts-based instructional methods and geospatial data visualization to help students learn how to use visual evidence to interpret data.

Key Activities

The project is carrying out the following activities:

  • Work with middle school science teachers to develop tools for STEM educators to use authentic geospatial data visualizations from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) SOS Explorer app and other sources to help students develop critical-thinking skills and practices
  • Use a design-based research framework to develop data literacy teaching approaches in partnership with middle school teachers
  • Identify strategies to increase teachers’ comfort with using scientific data visualizations and support them in weaving data and arts-based instruction throughout their curricula


  • The study will provide new evidence on how STEM teachers can successfully apply arts-based instruction and geospatial data visualization to foster students’ data literacy.
  • The study will advance knowledge of which arts-based data literacy instructional methods show the most promise with students.

Learn More

National Science Foundation

Nurture Nature Center, J. Sickler Consulting