Good Teaching

Using Real Data with Students

students using data
Written by Lori Gracey

Excite your students about using data as they track great white sharks in real time with free resources provided by OCEARCH.

Teaching students how to collect, analyze, and use data from the world around us can be a powerful learning experience that has lifelong implications. The ability to determine what information is needed and what is not, along with being able to correctly interpret what the data is telling you, is a critical problem-solving skill for everyone. But making that happen in the classroom can sometimes be difficult.

Students Using Data with OCEARCH

One way to provide this learning opportunity is with data from OCEARCH. A non-profit organization with a global reach for research on great white sharks and other large apex predators, OCEARCH offers real-time tracking data that students can use to draw their own conclusions. The website shows the latest “pings” from tagged sharks as their dorsal fins break the surface of the water and send a signal to a satellite overhead. The system can then track where the shark is currently.

Each shark is named and described so that students can become familiar with them; photos are even included. They can also see where the shark has been traveling and then can start the investigative process of determining where they think it will go next and what it might be looking for. There’s even a free iOS app available for students to use.

students using data

The Curriculum Provided

The site includes a complete curriculum guide for grades 3-5 and 6-8. The curriculum engages students in challenging STEM topics using the data and is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. The lessons include interactive videos, real-time learning activities, and projects that are easy for teachers to implement. You can even email them at to schedule a Skype session with an OCEARCH representative, bringing real-world expertise into the classroom.

Having students assume the role of scientist with actual data can change the way they think about school and learning. And OCEARCH makes this easy to do.


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About the author

Lori Gracey

Lori Gracey has 28 years of experience in education, with 22 years as a curriculum and technology director. She currently serves as the executive director of the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) and is responsible for training technology directors, administrators, curriculum supervisors, and teachers across the country. During her nine years in this position, she has led TCEA in membership and revenue growth, helped to pay off their building and purchase a new, larger building, and implemented new conferences, partnerships with other associations, and professional development opportunities for members and non-members. She serves more than 17,000 members and oversees a staff of 21. Lori is also on the board of the Texas Society of Association Executives and SXSWedu and recently served as the Regional Program Chair for the ISTE 2017 Convention in San Antonio.

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