STEM Literacy through Infographics (2016)


This video explores the STEM Learning through Infographics project (SLI), which utilizes a “citizen science journalism” approach to empower secondary school students to produce authentic news reporting on a personally relevant STEM topic.

In the SLI project, a team from University of Colorado, TERC, Simon Fraser University, and Saint Louis University is refining, implementing, and assessing a sociotechnical system involving teens in infographic-based data journalism with the purpose of fostering engagement with STEM and improved scientific/mathematical literacy. The system involves supports for data search and visualization, with the latter based on studies of mathematical thinking with data visualization tools.

Our collaborative project is developing and researching resources and activities to facilitate youth engagement in data journalism in a diverse set of contexts—high schools, an intensive summer camp, and an out-of-school internship.

Other team members: Ada Ren-Mitchell, MIT Media Lab; Joe Polman, University of Colorado, Boulder; Cindy Graville, Saint Louis University.

NSF Awards: 144156114414711441481


This discussion took place during the TERC Video Showcase Event Nov. 14-21, 2023. Discussion is now closed.
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Andee Rubin
Andee Rubin
November 13, 2023 11:12 pm
These days, data journalism is an accepted genre; one long-term impact of COVID was an increased appreciation for the importance of data and, in particular, the ways data are communicated. Our project pre-dated the pandemic by several years, but was prescient in its embrace of data communication.
We found that when students could choose their own topic for their data investigation and subsequent infographic, they were more likely to invest significant time and energy into the final product. On the other hand, some of the topics students chose didn’t have easily-accessible appropriate data available. This tension between student choice/agency and the desire for students to use particular skills comes up in many contexts. Where have you seen it and how have you dealt with it?
Ivel Gontan
Ivel Gontan
November 14, 2023 1:40 pm
What a cool video and amazing project!
I feel like the ability to interpret data and seek out valid sources of information is going to only become more and more relevant across time. I especially loved seeing the evolution of the cow infographic. It’s so fun to see people getting creative and nerdy!I feel like this should be a required course.
I am not sure about students but for myself one of the places I struggle with choice and agency is around where to receive my news from- I feel like most news outlets are biased and this makes me wary of what they are pandering. It would be neat to see an infographic on fact checking!
Great job team! Kudos! 😀
Andee Rubin
Andee Rubin
November 16, 2023 9:07 am
Thanks, Ivel! The issue of rampant mis/disinformation wasn’t as top of mind back in 2016 when we made this video – but it’s certainly an overwhelming problem right now. There is a really interesting approach to this called “lateral reading” being worked on at Stanford, which helps students get into the habit of reading multiple non-linked sources of information about critical topics to understand potential bias. It’s based on methods that professional fact-checkers use. An infographic on that process would indeed be interesting!
Nickolay Hristov
Nickolay Hristov
November 17, 2023 8:06 am
Reply to  Andee Rubin
Indeed, that is what keeps me up at night – beyond just teaching or designing for knowing, how to teach critical thinking for understanding. 
Nickolay Hristov
Nickolay Hristov
November 17, 2023 7:56 am
This topic and project are so dear to me! It is wonderful to see many examples of the translation of numerical information to visual representation. It is interesting that you situate the benefit of the project as increased STEM literacy. Are you also recognizing the increased visual literacy that must go hand in hand for the interplay of these two domains to be most effective?