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Lesson 7: Setting the Stage

Lesson 7: Setting the Stage


Students will begin to collect and record data to learn more about their own eating habits, as well as those of their classmates.. They will learn about data that is collected by a Participatory Sensing campaign, and also about privacy issues and photo ethics when collecting and sharing data.


  1. Students’ own mobile devices (smartphone or tablet compatible with iOS or Android)

  2. Access to App Store or Google Play Store in student devices to download IDS UCLA app

  3. Login information (username and password) for each student—generated and ready for distribution prior to the lesson

  4. Food Habits Campaign guidelines (LMR_U1_Campaign_Food Habits)

  5. Optional: You can show this video to show students how to take a survey using the browser or this video for the app..


Participatory Sensing campaign surveys images GPS ethics photo ethics

Essential Concepts:

Essential Concepts:

In Participatory Sensing, we humans behave as if we are robot sensors, collecting data whenever a "trigger" event occurs. Our ability to learn about the patterns in our life through these data depends on our being reliable data collectors.

Before students begin collecting data, ensure that:

a) The campaign settings are set to your preference.

b) Watch this video to learn about campaign settings.


  1. Become familiar with the Food Habits Campaign guidelines (shown at the end of this lesson), especially the big questions found under “1. The Issues,” to help guide students during the campaign (see Campaign Guidelines in Teacher Resources).

  2. Distribute the usernames and passwords to student team leaders (make sure safeguards are in place so that only the owner of the username and password is able to see this information). Ask team leaders to distribute their team’s information when you are ready to download the IDS UCLA app.

  3. Ask students to think about the Nutritional Facts labels from which they collected data in the previous lesson, and answer the following in their DS journals:

    1. What questions would you want answered about eating habits?

    2. What can you do to find out about your own eating habits?

  4. Ask students to refer back to their reactions and comments from Jamie Oliver’s video and have them ponder the question: What are we really eating?

  5. Over the next 9 days, they will engage in a Participatory Sensing campaign in which they will act as human sensors to collect data about themselves. The data collected will be used to analyze their classmates’ and their own snacking habits.

  6. For this unit, they will collect data about every snack they eat.

    Note: Students should NOT collect data for full meals like breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Data should only be collected for anything eaten in between meals, like fruit, chips, cookies, nuts, sodas, etc.

  7. Ask students why it makes sense to study snacks specifically. Brainstorm some questions that could be answered using the snack-only data that would be hard to answer if the data included meals as well.

  8. Inform students that they will be taking part in a specific data collection method know as Participatory Sensing via a mobile application. This application can gather data via surveys, images, and GPS tracking. For students who choose to share their location, their precise location will not appear on the shared IDS map. In the interest of protecting student privacy, our GPS is configured to show a generalized location tag, not a specific address.

  9. Make it clear to students that the reason they are collecting the data is to learn more about themselves and their classmates, NOT to provide data for an external data collection team. Students occasionally have the misconception that when they use the Participatory Sensing app, they are providing data to external researchers, such as UCLA.

  10. Inform students that they are now going to engage in their own first Participatory Sensing data collection experience, in which they will collect their own data using a smart device. Depending on the device, there are 3 different options available:

    1. Android. A native Android application called “IDS UCLA” is available from the Google Play Store.

    2. iOS (Apple devices) The mobile application called “IDS UCLA” is available from the iOS App Store.

    3. No mobile device - browser-based version. For students that do not have a mobile device (or an unsupported device, such as a Windows phone or Blackberry), a browser-based version to perform data collection is available at
      Click on the Survey Taking icon on the page.

  11. Once students have downloaded the app or have found the website, ask team leaders to distribute the login information. Students will need to keep this information in a safe place for the entire duration of this course. Emphasize the importance of keeping their username and password confidential. When students receive their login information, they can log in to the app. If students have trouble with their logins, the teacher has the ability to reset a student’s password.

  12. Once logged into the app or the browser-based version, students will see the Campaigns in which they will participate. They will then select the campaign by tapping the name of the campaign. If no campaigns are visible, ask them to tap the refresh option, located on the top right hand side of the screen.

  13. Using one of their nutrition facts cutouts or pictures, ask students to complete their first survey by going through the questions in the app.
    Optional: This is where you can show this video to show students how to take a survey using the browser or this video for the app.

  14. After every student has had the opportunity to complete at least one survey, ask students the meaning of the word ethics. For this course, they will need to understand photo ethics. They may NOT take pictures of any person’s identifying features such as faces, hair, hands, tattoos, etc. For this campaign, they may only take pictures of their snacks and/or the nutrition facts labels.

    Note to teacher: Inspect students’ data collection photos throughout the data collection period and before each data collection, monitoring to ensure that no inappropriate images are shared. If you believe a photo is inappropriate, please delete the data entry immediately.

  15. Setting reminders: The IDS UCLA app has a reminder feature to help students in their data collection journey. Show students that they can set reminders directly on the app by tapping the menu button on the top left hand side of the screen and selecting Reminders from the menu.

  16. Data collection norms: Ask students how many snacks they think they eat a day. From this, come up with an approximate number of surveys they think each student should complete during the data collection period (days 7 though 15).

  17. Inform students that you will be monitoring their data collection to make sure that everyone is submitting surveys regularly.

  18. Go over the previous day’s homework. Ask the facilitator from each table group conduct a round robin during which each team member shares one simple statistical question and one complex statistical question. The Recorder/Reporter will select and share out one of the team’s simple statistical questions and one complex statistical question with the class.

Class Scribes:

One team of students will give a brief talk to discuss what they think the 3 most important topics of the day were.


For the next 9 days, students will collect nutritional facts data using the Food Habits Participatory Sensing campaign on their smart devices or via web browser.