DonorsChoose accepts proposals from public
school teachers for items they need for their classrooms. The contest invited developers and data
crunchers to use their data to make discoveries and build apps that improve education in America.
The judging criteria was as follows: Which app or analysis has the greatest potential to engage
the public and impact education?
I decided to do a closer study of the trend of requests for technology. I noticed right off the bat that a lot of teachers wanted Apple products--the words iPod, iMac, Macbook and iPad kept appearing as I browsed the proposals. I thought about why that might be and what Apple symbolizes as a brand. Computers represent access to an overabundance of information that is central to this era, so it's important for teachers to educate their students with it. Apple pioneered in broadening the market of personal computers, making their functions accessible and appealing to everyone. This notion has maintained their popularity ever since, so teachers must see them as a good immersion point for getting their students to understand the technology.
As I thought more about what must make these devices desirable to public school teachers, I came up with two interesting stats to attach to each proposal: WalkScore and household income. The idea behind plotting the WalkScore was that it is, to a certain degree, a measure of the urban-ness of a location. Places with no public transportation that are spread out are often low-population, rural towns, so a device that can access the web goes a long way in connecting it's users to the rest of the global village. As for plotting household income, I thought it would be an interesting measure of how likely the students were to have access to or even have encountered a computer before (Apple or otherwise), seeing how far below the poverty line many families appear to be living. I also figured a map would be a good addition to give some indication of what parts of the country are active on DonorsChoose.
The site grabbed data from 3 different APIs - DonorsChoose, WalkScore, and Infochimps. The graph showed WalkScore low to high on one axis, and household income low to high on the other, the idea being that the kids who were in the most rural and impoverished areas were likely to need the most help. The map showed the same results.
All the icons and graphics were custom designed for this project. It was a lot of fun to be creative with design and code! (macsforclassrooms.com - Unfortunately, no longer up.)