There are many other facets of the discipline that do not get enough attention from students and educators. The processing and portrayal of information is a key component of computer science, but the logistical costs and learning curve associated with inputting and processing large amounts of data can result in delaying these student experiences until well after introductory courses are complete.
We created an iPad app that lets students visualize data from a wide variety of sources by mapping colors to values in data from space probes and satellites, digital earth and mars elevation datasets, and MRI and ultrasound imagers. VizBang will let students learn how colors are mapped to information in order to create beautiful visualizations that help us learn as much as we can from the underlying data in a fun and engaging app. No programming needed!
Students can play and experiment with the app, create custom color palettes, and pan and zoom the images to highlight certain regions of the images.
If your students would like a specific challenge, have them try creating these specific visualizations:
1) Create a visualization of the sea surface temperature image that uses as many warm colors as possible for warm, tropical water, and as many cool colors to depict the more polar water temperatures.
2) Create a photo-realistic image representing the world’s elevations. Mountains should look snow-capped, water should be blue, lower elevations should range from light-green, to dark green, to browns, etc. The elevation image is very detailed and large so it takes a long time to render. Be patient, the wait is worth it. Play with other images first until you are good at creating palettes before trying this super detailed image.
3) An extremely detailed color palette for the world’s elevation that shows off the Mississippi River valley in as much detail as you can.
4) Use any other image you choose and make something that has artistic value. Be creative and send screenshots to your friends of the work you create!