The Array of Things isn’t just a city-scale scientific instrument, but an educational platform as well. Students working with AoT data and building their own sensor boxes can receive valuable hands-on experience with technology, programming, data analysis, and the scientific method. Since 2016, the Array of Things project has created and refined an educational curriculum called “Lane of Things” at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago, introducing over 450 students to sensor and data science projects.
This coming year, with a fourth round of funding from the Motorola Solutions Foundation, Lane of Things will officially expand into a broader “School of Things” project, bringing the AoT-inspired curriculum to a larger group of teachers and schools. The new approach started this summer with a week-long professional development workshop for 11 Chicago middle and high school teachers, taught by the Lane of Things project team.
Across Chicago, more than 100 Array of Things nodes currently collect data on temperature, humidity, air pressure, magnetic field, vibration, light and air quality, publishing the results openly for scientists, city officials and residents to use. With Lane Tech, AoT researchers have developed a pilot educational program to bring the project into schools as well, using off-the-shelf devices to help students create their own smaller version of the sensor network.
While the first two years of the workshop, called “Lane of Things,” deployed student-built sensors in the hallways of Lane Tech, this year’s partnership with the Chicago Cubs presented a much higher-profile experimental setting. Students quizzed team representatives on their most pressing questions, designed custom devices for measuring sound, weather and customer satisfaction, and installed the sensors around the ballpark in late May.
A new Innovation Generation grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation will help Array of Things expand its educational curriculum to additional Chicago Public Schools classrooms in 2018. Building upon two successful years of workshops with over 300 students at Lane Tech High School, the program will train teachers and package materials for a hands-on experience with the Internet of Things, coding, data science, and other key computer science and technology concepts.
For the second year running, Array of Things worked with Chicago’s Lane Tech High School on a workshop curriculum called “Lane of Things.” Over eight weeks, students in Lane Tech’s Innovation and Creation Lab and Physical Computing Lab worked with scientists and designers from the Array of Things project on designing and building their own sensor boxes. Teams then deployed those boxes around the school, collecting data on foot traffic, air quality, noise, student behavior, and more.
The first University of Chicago Convening on Urban Data Science, organized by the CI’s Urban Center for Computation and Data (UrbanCCD) and the UChicago Urban and sponsored by the Harris School for Public Policy, reflected this early stage of growth. There was ample enthusiasm about early projects using analytics, sensing, mapping, and both public and private data sources. There was excitement about the future and new collaborations formed across countries, disciplines, and public/private/academic spheres. But there were also passionate discussions about the ethical and moral implications of urban data science, an important reflection for a fast-growing field with the goal of improving policy and people’s lives.
Inside the small wooden box are several tiny sensors, a cellular modem, a battery, and a micro-processor running custom programming code. But the key innovation for Erica Pereira’s “Lane of Things” device might be the laser-printed cut-out design of the outer enclosure: two circles and a square forming a friendly emoji-like face.
Their box was just one of over forty sensor nodes built by Lane Tech students as part of the first Lane of Things workshop, funded by Motorola Solutions and organized by the Urban Center for Computation and Data (UrbanCCD) and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) as part of the broader Array of Things (AoT) project. The workshop was the first stage of the AoT’s educational component, using the technology and principles of the urban sensing platform to help students learn about programming, data science, digital fabrication, and additional CS concepts.
CHICAGO—The University of Chicago (UChicago) announced today that the National Science Foundation has awarded a $3.1 million grant to support the development of Array of Things, an urban sensing instrument that will serve as a fitness tracker for the city. Starting next year, 500 Array of Things (AoT) nodes will measure data on Chicago’s environment, infrastructure and activity to scientifically investigate solutions to urban challenges ranging from air quality to urban flooding. The ultimate goal of this innovative community technology platform is to help make cities cleaner, healthier and more livable.
Since its announcement last summer, the Array of Things (AoT) urban sensing project has been gradually refining its technology and strategy for its expected pilot launch this spring. For the February edition of Inside the Discovery Cloud, project leaders Charlie Catlett and Douglas Pancoast provided the latest update on the status of AoT, tackling the design, community engagement, computer architecture, and scientific aspects of the project.