Review by Christie Thomas, Common Sense Education | Updated April 2016

Tuva Labs

Access to curated data sets has tons of potential, needs more teacher support

Subjects & skills
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: Well-curated (and interesting) data sets are accessible and manageable with the site's clean design and easy-to-use manipulation tools.

Cons: There’s just not enough support for most teachers (or students); more tutorials on interpreting data and more activities with answer keys are needed.

Bottom Line: Partner with another teacher (preferably a data whiz) and work together to develop activities that will support learning in your classes.

Tuva Labs' data sets are accessible for upper elementary through high school classrooms and across subject levels. You will want to set aside prep time to explore the data and (probably) create your own activity. Cross-curricular applications are obvious. Are your fourth-graders studying colonial America? Link math and history goals using the "Tobacco and Jamestown Economy" data set. Working on natural disasters in MS? Access data sets on hurricanes and earthquakes while also exploring CCSS on statistical variability and distribution. Secondary science teachers will find lots of real-world data related to human impact (energy consumption, greenhouse gases, and so on).

For more focused math practice (graphs, linear functions, data analysis) have small groups of students interact with data sets they (pre-)select. Turn to the "Model Shop" collection for sense-making examples of mathematical modeling. Consider uploading your class' own data sets for further exploration; just don't forget a coordinating worksheet or journal entry.

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Tuva Labs provides access to more than 300 curated data sets -- with coordinating online student activities for some -- on topics as varied as gender identity and atmospheric CO2. Filters are available for subject, grade range, data set size, and more. The amount of data per set varies from less than 10 cases to thousands and from two to more than 20 attributes. There are also a few collections, offering themed activities across multiple data sets.

Activities provide guided questions to support data set manipulation and interpretation. Teachers can use a provided template to create new activities or modify existing ones. Teachers and students can also upload their own data sets, although activities can’t be made for these. The teacher dashboard has tabs for each class, providing management for classes as well as students. Video tutorials, webinars, and a glossary are available on the resources page.

Data literacy is crucial, and Tuva Labs has huge potential for developing these skills. Their curated offerings make real data accessible, parceling it into chunks more manageable than many source sites. You can start with data on only 3,500 women from 1900–2000, instead of tackling the entire U.S. Census Bureau. Further, the intuitive interface makes data-play feasible and fun for kids.

Unfortunately, most of Tuva's data sets lack coordinated activities, and the practice that is available is often at an exploratory level. Expanding the topics in Data Tutorial 101 could support students (and teachers) in both understanding raw data and interpreting it to find valid relationships among attributes. Expert-created activities would support in-class learning, and posting (and vetting) activity keys could reassure any hesitant educators.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The user-friendly, intuitive interface makes playing with data sets easy and fun. Manipulating colorful dot plots is at first fascinating, but student interest is bound to fizzle without meaningful guidance, which is generally missing.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Practice with exploring and manipulating real datasets is powerful, and the varied topics fit lots of contexts. The learning shortfall is around data interpretation: students (and teachers) need more support in reasoning through datasets.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

A tutorial walks users through a few prerequisites. What's missing is support for deeper understanding, even for educators. More activities (including answer keys), guides for interpreting data sets, and access to experts all would help.

Common Sense Reviewer
Christie Thomas Classroom teacher

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Featured review by
Kat C. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Got Data Literacy?
I am sad that Tuva Labs is more of a freemium service now. I have been using it for a while and I think it is a great tool that should be accessible to all students. Data literacy is huge in today's job market. It is important that we start to prepare our students and arm them with these skill sets so that they can be successful in the future.
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