Constructive Physical Visualization and Children: Benefits and Challenges




Castaneda Bueno, Andrea

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Data visualization is a medium that allows us to understand, analyze, and communicate information on a daily basis. There is considerable research on the role of visualization for adults, both in professional and casual contexts. However, very little research is available on its role for children. Despite the growing body of work on the topics of data and visualization literacy, we still lack an understanding of how young children might construct, read, and interact with visualizations; and how they might acquire and communicate data insights. To bridge this gap, we contribute the first study that aims at how young children are able to understand the concept of mapping data to abstract representations, how they construct visualizations and interact with them, and how these interactions affect what they learn, reflect on, and communicate to others. We report the results of an exploratory qualitative study in which children aged 4-6 were asked to map, encode, and derive insights from creating physical data representations of their emotions using art and craft materials over a period of two weeks. We found that involving young children in data visualization exercises helps them explore new ways of communicating and reflecting on their personal data. From this exploration of physical visualizations constructed by young children, we contribute 1) a description of how young children associate their mappings with their reflections on their data, 2) a list of interactions young children use to get insights from their visualization, and 3) a discussion of benefits and challenges of working with young children with the aim of engaging them in data visualization.



Qualitative study, Constructive Visualization, Physicalization, Young children