All students will need to be data literate to navigate our increasingly data-driven world. Yet few resources exist to guide teachers in fostering students’ data literacy and helping them make inferences from data. How can we help teachers support students in transitioning from using simple data sets that students collect themselves to working with professionally collected data?

 In Streams of Data, EDC developed and tested an approach to guide grade 4 students through this transition. An interdisciplinary team of educators, researchers, and scientists from EDC’s Oceans of Data Institute and the American Geosciences Institute researched how to use professionally collected, scientific data to ensure elementary students acquired the early data literacy skills they would need for success in high school and beyond.

Key Activities

Working with three urban and suburban school districts in Virginia and Maryland, the project team carried out the following activities:

  • Conducted interviews with students to build a baseline understanding of the reasoning they use to make inferences from data
  • Created a series of learning activities that combined authentic geoscience data and hands‑on earth science exploration and aligned with earth science curriculum standards
  • Designed a scoring rubric to capture student learning
  • Led a field test of the learning activities in six classrooms across three districts with approximately 150 students


The project:

  • Provided new insight into how to develop rigorous, standards-aligned learning opportunities that help young students explore and think critically about real-world data
  • Advanced knowledge of young children’s understanding and use of data
  • Identified data resources with potential to foster young students’ learning through integrated STEM projects

Learn More

Streams of Data: Nurturing Data Literacy in Elementary Earth Science
National Science Foundation

American Geosciences Institute (AGI)