Urban Research Classes
In our urban research classes, high school students are introduced to the process of research with a social science research project that is relevant to their lives. They design the projects, brainstorming big questions and how to answer them.
We use the city of Chicago as our laboratory and apply quantitative research approaches to urban issues. Students see that they can be researchers, that it doesn’t require special equipment to do science, and they develop a physical understanding of plots and graphs from the data that they collect.
Can We Measure Neighborhood Investment?
To explore this, students are gathering and analyzing data from three difference sources.
In our current urban research class at Lindblom Math & Science Academy, students are asking, "Can we measure neighborhood investment?" To explore this, they're gathering data from three different sources.
First is the return rates of lost letters and keys. Students are dropping “lost letters” on the sidewalk, within sight of a blue box. And, separately, they're dropping “lost keys” with an email address on the tag. Then, they simply sit back and collect data as the postal mail and email arrives – or doesn’t arrive.
Secondly, while students are out in the field dropping these letters and keys, they’re surveying characteristics that they think might be related to neighborhood investment – characteristics like lawn condition, the number of abandoned buildings, vacant lots, walker frequency, and more.
And finally, students are collecting publicly available data – from the City of Chicago’s data portal to the United States Census Bureau and beyond. They’re able to directly compare some of their field surveys, like abandoned buildings, with the city’s data.
While students are out broadening their city experience and having fun, they're learning about research, statistics, data collection, analysis, visualization, and geomapping.
More Urban Research Classes
Chicago's Urban Forest - Has the city of Chicago's plan to increase tree diversity and coverage been successful across neighborhoods?
Selective Enrollment High Schools Transportation Survey - How do students get to and from Chicago's selective enrollment high schools? How long is their commute? Are they safe using public transportation?
Does the city of Chicago treat some wards preferentially? Students collect data in sampled wards around the city to see if any receive quicker or more city services.
Banner image courtesy of Cory Mollet and Juan-Pablo Velez / Open City.