Getting Started With CTTM

CTTM provides teachers with a way to give students practice using skills and ideas that are at the core of data literacy. We designed the program to be relatively inexpensive so that teachers can use it semester and semester and year after year. Our hope is that as teachers use the program again and again, they will find ways to go even deeper in engaging students with the big ideas and essential practices of data science. Repeating the program will also produce an increasingly rich picture of water quality and infrastructure in the surrounding community, enabling deeper analysis and opening new questions.

During the 2020-21 school year, a half-dozen or so teachers are using CTTM for the first time and working with each other and the program team to discover what the program can do and how it can be improved. The information on this page is aimed mostly at those pilot teachers. But it can also give other teacher an idea of how the program works.

If you might be interested in using CTTM in your classroom in future years, get in touch with the program team.

Brief Overview of How CTTM Works

Students participating in CTTM collect water samples and observations about plumbing systems from around their community. They enter these data onto the Anecdata citizen science data repository, where it is stored along with data collected by students from other schools around Maine. Using Anecdata allows students in different schools to share data and see it on maps. Once they have uploaded their data, the CTTM program team transforms the data so that the students can explore their findings on the Tuva data exploration platform.

Before the data are uploaded to Anecdata, they start out on paper. The reason for this is that students collect the data by asking adults questions, by going into basements, equipment rooms, and crawl spaces to look at pipes, by looking at sinks and other plumbing fixtures, and by using meters, test strips, and their own senses to get data about drinking water quality. This is their “fieldwork.”

They use paper forms to record their observations and measurements while they are in the field. Later, back at home or in the classroom, they enter their observations and measurements in Anecdata. So …

Data collection begins on paper

What that means is that teachers can get students into the field and collecting data quickly. Helping the students learn to enter their observations on Anecdata can wait until they have some data. We hope that by starting with the data, on paper, the electronic part will make more sense to the students.

First Things First

You should obtain permission from the people who own or manage a building before students begin collecting water samples and information about the plumbing in the building. If students collect samples from where they live, that permission will come from the student’s parents or other adults they live with.

To make this easy, we have written a post about getting permission and why it is important. The post also includes a link to the permission form we would like you to use. The “permission form” is much more than that — it also explains to parents what the CTTM project is all about and describes the information that students will be collecting and what that information is good for.

Making Sense of the Datasheets

Rather than creating one enormous datasheet for information about the building, plumbing, and water quality, we decided to break the data collection into separate datasheets. We did this for several reasons. One is that it is easier for students to do one thing — for example, record the water chemistry information from test strips — rather than keeping track of many things on a long, complicated form

Another reason is that different teachers will be collecting information in different ways. In some cases, it will be data about water quality from many buildings. In other cases, it will be one building with many taps. It might even be the same taps sampled again and again over the year. By breaking the datasheets into smaller pieces, we can support teachers in doing all of these things.

So, before getting into the details of Building IDs, Tap IDs, and so on, we suggest that your read this short overview of how the different datasheets all fit together.

Providing IDs for Your Students

CTTM is designed to keep so that your students can add their observations to the Anecdata database without revealing their identity. The way that works is that each student has an Observer ID that you will assign. Here is how to do that.

Assigning IDs to Buildings

Beyond identifiers for your students, the other identifier that needs attention is the Building ID. This is important because all the needs to be tied back to a particular building. The Building ID is what makes that connection. Here is what you need to know about adding new buildings.

If you and your students want to look at the differences between taps within a building, you will need to create additional Tap IDs for the building. It is easy — here is how to do it.

Collecting the Actual Water Data

Once you have Observer IDs, Building IDs, and Tap IDs, students are ready to start collecting data about the water that comes out of these taps — along with the plumbing in the building.

NOTE: Every one of the datasheets related to water quality asks for an Observer ID, Building ID, teacher name, and optional Tap ID. These IDs are essential to keeping observations connected to buildings and taps. However, it is possible to have students begin using these datasheets to start collecting water data before you have set up all these IDs.  You can do this either by setting up provisional IDs or by telling the students to leave the fields blank.  But this is risky and likely to result in confusion.  You would not want to collect very much data this way.  Set up the IDs early in the process.

We have created paper datasheets (PDF files you can print) and detailed instructions (again, PDF files to print) for students to guide them as they collect water chemistry data, visual evidence of water quality, and data about total dissolved solids (TDS). This post provides links to all these PDF files and provides you with an overview of the process.

Putting Your Water System into a Larger Context

Teachers whose students collect data from public water systems (which includes municipal water systems, schools that have their own well, trailer parks, campgrounds, restaurants in rural areas, and more) will benefit from this overview of public water systems in Maine. It provides a link to a report that you will probably want to share with your students.

Reference Materials

If you need help with some particular part of the CTTM process, such as setting up Building IDs or organizing data collection, you might find what you need in our collection of “How-to” posts.

One-on-One Support for Teachers

We hope this page provides an overview of how to use CTTM and a place to go for help. However, this page is not enough. What REALLY helps in getting going with CTTM is a Zoom meeting where the program team can, in real-time, walk you through entering data on Anecdata and using Tuva while answering your questions as they come up. We can do this in about an hour, and it makes all the difference. Contact us to set up a time to meet.