Piotr Migdał

D3.js workshop at ICM for KFnrD

9 Feb 2016 | by Piotr Migdał

24-29 Jan 2016 I had a workshop for gifted high-school students of the Polish Children's Fund (Krajowy Fundusz na rzecz Dzieci) entitled Interactive Data Visualization. It was a part of workshops in practical computer science, at ICM, University of Warsaw, organized by @bolikowski.

Students working in a lab

My intent was to show data visualization so they can start with getting data, and end up with a publicly-accessible data visualization.

Monday morning was for lectures introducing to the topics (others were: Image Analysis and Clustering of Languages). Monday afternoon to Thursday evening - work of students, with some guidance. Friday morning - presentation of their results.

I had 5 participants (3 girls, 2 boys), who had background mostly in algorithms, with C++ as their primary language.


Women can code better


Maybe the most important - what were their projects?


I was extremely happy with the participants. I knew in advance that they were not "normal students", but still - got impressed by their motivation to learn, and that each of them made a project in this short timespan. Moreover, they self-learned and applied quite a few things I hadn't shown. I was not sure if starting with JavaScript syntax was enough. But it turned about that (as they knew C++), it was fine - and I think a good trade-off, given the time constraints.

I had a few data pieces in mind, but let them to choose their topic. It introduced some initial chaos, but I wanted to makes sure they have data they like and they are able to pick a sensible dataset.

Some projects required data wrangling, which they did in C++, C# and Perl. I was tempted to show Python but it was not enough time. I only showed one Python script (Jupyter Notebook) to scrape Stack Overflow Jobs data and explained it step by step.

Force-directed graph is a black hole - once I showed it, all of the participants wanted to use it. I have mixed feelings about it - I love them (TagOverflow, Themes of Polish Books, etc), but it is more high-level than the core D3.js API. And projects were not as diverse as they might have been.

Informal talks in the corridor