Lesson 17: Creating Our Own Participatory Sensing Campaign

Lesson 17: Creating Our Own Participatory Sensing Campaign


Students will be guided through the creation of a new Participatory Sensing campaign and survey on a topic of interest chosen by the class.


  1. Food Habits Campaign Questions handout (LMR_3.15_Food Habits Qs)

  2. Campaign Creation Brainstorm handout (LMR_3.16_Campaign Creation)

Essential Concepts:

Essential Concepts:

Creating a Participatory Sensing Campaign requires that survey questions must be completed whenever they are “triggered”. Research questions provide an overall direction in Participatory Sensing Campaign.


  1. Review homework questions by asking a couple of students to share their responses. The rest of students will engage in Agree/Disagree as the questions are shared.

  2. Display the following definition of Participatory Sensing that some computer scientists have agreed to and ask students to read and record this definition in their DS journals:

    At its heart, Participatory Sensing is data collection and interpretation. Participatory Sensing emphasizes the involvement of citizens and community groups in the process of sensing and documenting where they live, work, and play. It can range from private personal observations to the combination of data from hundreds, or even thousands, of individuals that reveals patterns across an entire city. Most important, Participatory Sensing begins and ends with people, both as individuals and members of communities. The type of information collected, how it is organized, and how it is ultimately used, may be determined in a traditional manner by a centrally organized body, or in a deliberative manner by the collection of participants themselves. The latter case, in particular, emphasizes the novelty of Participatory Sensing as an approach and underscores the importance of using widely available and familiar technology. [Source: "Participatory Sensing: A citizen-powered approach to illuminating the patterns that shape our world."]

  3. Activate prior knowledge: Based on this definition, ask students to recall the Participatory Sensing campaigns in which they have engaged thus far. Answer: Food Habits, Time Use, Stress/Chill.

    Note: Personality Color and Time Perception were surveys, not Participatory Sensing campaigns because they were only completed once. Their data was not collected over time.

  4. Inform students that they will be creating a new, whole class Participatory Sensing campaign, but before they do that, they will analyze the Food Habits Campaign Questions handout (LMR_3.15).

  5. In teams, allow students two minutes to discuss the following as they analyze the Food Habits Campaign questions:

    1. How many questions does the campaign have and what do they notice about the questions? Answers will vary. Students may notice that they are survey type of questions and may identify the type of questions such as open-ended, single-choice, etc.

    2. When do these questions need to be answered? Each time they eat a snack.

    3. Who collects the data for this campaign? The participants collect their own data.

  6. Ask a few teams to share their insights about the discussion. In the share-out, guide students to see that the questions are in fact survey questions. Although survey questions are answered once, when we collect data every time a 'trigger' event occurs, then we are engaging in Participatory Sensing.

  7. Ensure that team roles have defined duties to keep teams on task for the rest of this lesson. Creating this class campaign will follow a process in which consensus (or a majority rule) will be reached in each step of the campaign development within each team. Inform students that they will be creating a Participatory Sensing campaign on a topic of their interest using LMR_3.16.

  8. Round 1: First, teams will discuss their hobbies, areas of interest, or places or processes they want to know more about. Prompt students to think about whether they want to learn about "where they live, work, or play." All students within the group must agree on a hobby or area of interest to be their topic of their interest to create a campaign for. An example of a hobby is practicing cello. An area of interest might be 'the environment.' A place of interest might be "our school" or "my church" or "Disneyland."

  9. Once teams have decided on a topic for their group, have teams share out their topic of interest. As a class, decide on one topic that will be used for creating a new Campaign.

  10. Round 2: Now have teams consider what research questions you might ask about this topic of interest. An example of a research question for practicing cello is “How can I improve my playing?” or "How can I practice more effectively?"

  11. Once teams have decided on a research question for their group, have teams share out their research question. As a class, decide on one research question that will be used for creating a new Campaign.

  12. Round 3: Next, they will examine what kind of data needs to be collected in order to answer this research question. They should discuss possible triggers that will determine when data should be collected. Allow teams to engage in a discussion about when is the best time to trigger the data collection/completion of the survey. For example: every day at 8am; whenever they practice the cello; whenever they see an advertisement; etc. They should record it in their DS Journals. An example of a trigger for practicing cello is whenever you play the cello. In this case, it could be any time of day or even multiple times of the day.

  13. Once teams have decided on a trigger for their group, have teams share out their possible trigger. As a class, decide on one trigger that will be used for creating a new Campaign.

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.


Using the class topic, research question, trigger event, and discussion of the data they plan to collect. Classify our class campaign under the appropriate category with your justification:

(A) Individual; (B) Groups of people; (C) Community

Note to teacher: To determine which category a campaign should be placed under, consider the question "Who or what will we learn about?" If the answer is "only one person", then place in the Individual category. The cello campaign is an example of this. If we might learn about lots of people, put it in the Groups of People category. The Food Habits, Stress/Chill, and Time Use campaigns fit into this category (they learn about the students in the class). A campaign that wanted to know where all of the churches in the neighborhood were located, or wanted to try to keep people from littering, or wasting water, these should go into the "community" category.