Building an Investigation

Investigations don’t just spring up from nothing!  They evolve from iWonder questions that gather loads of momentum, become SMART, and then are worked through with students, teachers, and experts to build up the infrastructure that is needed to actually collect real data.

One thing to note here is that an investigation can only be built in WeatherBlur by a staff member – but they are only the “builders”.  They rely on you to provide the materials!

So what are the materials?

  1. A SMART iWonder question – or even a series of questions that have developed over time.
  2. A brief description of what the issue is that the investigation hopes to solve. Something that others will read and want to find out more about.
  3. An image related to the investigation topic – like a picture of the park, beach, animal, plant, or phenomenon where the investigation will take place or involve.
  4. A detailed list of instructions on how, where, and where the data collection will take place.  We call these the investigation protocols.  They need to be very detailed – so any person anywhere could follow exactly the same process to collect data.  This is very important – and nothing should be left to chance.
  5. A list of the data collection ‘fields’ or points you want to collect.  You need to give these unique and recognizable names like:

Collection beach:

Sample number:

Time of collection:

Number of shells:

Height of tree in meters:

6. You then have to tell us the type of data you want each of these to be.  You have the following list to choose from:

Text – plain and simple text.  Great for names of objects, or notes.

Number – you can be specific about how many decimal places, or even a range (can’t be more than 100 or less than 10), if you can have negative numbers.

Date – you can even pick the format (MM/DD/YYYY is the standard).

Time – 12 hr or 24 hr time.

Latitude/Longitude – these will be in digital degrees, like shown on Google Maps.

Address – this needs to be carefully used so as not to identify a student.

Dropdown list – students can select just ONE option, like ‘pick a class’ or ‘type of tree’

Muti-select list – students can pick many answers from a list, such as “what of the following things do you observe”

Check box – best for yes/no answers – like ‘have you double-check the data” or “was it night or day”.

File upload – upload a photograph, or spreadsheet, or pdf, etc.

You can use each of these types of data multiple times – so if you need three drop-down lists, two text files, and four dates – that’s all ok!

Once we have this information we can build the data form, protocol page and get the investigation live for all WeatherBlur to see and add data!


Gary Lewis
27 January 2021

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