When Nothing Is Something: Exploring Global Refugee Flow

Algebra students at The Campus School put their research and data analysis skills to the test as they evaluated the truth of a statement about global migration patterns. Students first explained how to rate the reliability of an information source, using information such the web address suffix (.gov & .edu indicate reliability), past experience with a site, or cross verification of data with another site.

Their task was to use data to assess the validity of a statement “caravans of people (are) coming through Mexico to cross U.S. border...”given three data sources. Students received an article from Politifact, a graphic from an MSNBC news broadcast, and a link to the Global Refugee Flow Explorable, provided by CMU's CREATE Lab.

As soon as they opened the site mapping Global Refugee Flow  https://explorables.cmucreatelab.org/explorables/annual-refugees/examples/webgl-timemachine/, the comments began to fly. “What are the colors?” “What happened in 2007?” “What’s going on in Russia? Is that Ukraine?” Once students had time to find their way in the Explorable, they turned to the task of graphing data from the article and comparing it to the news broadcast graphic. Each indicated a general decline in numbers of refugees entering the US.

“There’s nothing happening in North America!” was the consensus comment when students returned to evaluate their graphs in terms of the Refugee Flow Map. What was merely an academic conclusion from the static graphs became a full-fledged outcry when viewed on the Map. Students experienced the reality that sometimes an absence of data is also a revelation. They concluded that the statement represented an exaggeration of actual contitions, based on their three data sources. 

Read more about the Explorable at:  https://www.fastcompany.com/40423720/watch-the-movements-of-every-refugee-on-earth-since-the-year-2000?utm_source=mailchimp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=fcdaily-top&position=1&partner=newsletter&campaign_date=05312017