How comparing crocodiles and children is teaching kids about data

Pupils have been comparing their classroom to a crocodile enclosure at Five Sisters Zoo.

West Lothian pupils compare classroom conditions to crocodile enclosure in data driven project STV News

Pupils at a West Calder school have been comparing their classroom conditions to a crocodile enclosure at Five Sister’s Zoo all thanks to a project with Edinburgh University.

Children at Addiewell Primary School have been gaining important lessons about gathering data and how to analyse it as part of a £9.5m scheme to help children understand digital technology.

The Internet of Things network gives thousands of students from more than 40 schools across Edinburgh, Fife, the Lothians and the Borders gain access to the latest indoor smart technology.

Addiewell Primary were given six sensors to help monitor the level of things like light, humidity, temperature and CO2 in their classrooms.

The information gathered from the sensors is sent to a high performance computer at Edinburgh’s International Data Facility where the data is transformed into graphs and charts that the pupils can view online – which has prompted them to make changes to their classroom.

P7 pupils analysing the data collected from the sensor in their classroom.STV News

“What we’ve been able to do with the information is get things that we can improve, “Connor, a pupil a Addiewell Primary said.

Rahiana, another pupil, said: “The sensors pick up CO2 and that’s what we breath out and if there’s too much of that it can make you feel dizzy.

“So, we realised that it was way too high and plants take in CO2 and create oxygen so we got some Spider plants because they’re really good at doing that and it’s lowered our CO2 (levels).”

The pupils decided to get spider plants in their classroom to bring down the CO2 levels.STV News

But the class have taken the opportunity one step further after a pupil messaged Five Sisters Zoo in the hopes they could compare their classroom’s environment with an animal’s enclosure.

Liam Airley, P7 Teacher at Addiewell Primary School said: “The project is totally child-led, they had done the data with their classroom so they thought where could we go next so we thought in our local environment, what kind of things are there.

“We thought the zoo would be a great opportunity and one of the kids messaged the zoo off their own back and started this whole partnership up.”

Adam Welsh, head of education services at Five Sisters Zoo: “We decided to place the sensors within our crocodile enclosure – our West African Dwarf Crocodile enclosure – we also set one up in the public area as well.

“I think just being able to see what’s going on in an animal enclosure makes that data science more relatable and I guess it makes it quite exciting as well.

“Instead of just looking at loads of graphs and bar charts, when you know it relates back to two real crocodiles in a real zoo that’s just a mile along the road I think it really helps with the learning process.”

It’s hoped that teaching children these skills will help them navigate digital technology in the future and inspire them to pursue data-led careers.

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