FRIDAY, JUN 21, 2013

National Science Foundation Highlights Social Explorer


Since Social Explorer first began, the National Science Foundation has supported our resource and tool development through a series of grants.

NSF recently highlighted Social Explorer's work on Research.Gov in the feature, "Social Explorer Expands the Circle"

Grant Award: Creating and Disseminating Tools to Teach with Demographic Data Maps and Materials

Social Explorer, an interactive Web-based tool, allows students, researchers and others to create, explore, analyze and visualize over 220 years of demographic data. Started at Queens College and funded by NSF, Social Explorer provides access to: Census data from 1790 to 2010, American Community Survey data from 2005 to 2010, religion data, and carbon emissions data. Additional datasets are added on a continuing basis.

The website transforms users into demographic researchers with just a few simple clicks. Users can create customized maps without the need for sophisticated training or laborious data analysis software. By making data and maps easy to work with, Social Explorer has opened up demographic and social research to students, researchers and others across the disciplines.

Developers of Social Explorer are working with educators at the University of Illinois to develop classroom lessons on topics such as segregation and migration. They are also studying how students use data to learn and reason. In 2013, Social Explorer's maps will be part of an interactive display at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which has over 10 million visitors each year. The New York Times and numerous other media establishments frequently cite Social Explorer data, maps and analysis, helping an even wider audience learn about demography.

Social Explorer first launched in 2003 and became available by subscription in 2007. The tool includes over 40 billion data elements, 200,000 variables and more than 18,000 interactive maps. One patent application has been filed and others will soon be filed.

In 2010, Social Explorer was named an "outstanding reference source" by the Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association. It also has won awards from the Interactive Media Council and the Web Marketing Association. Over 250 university and other libraries subscribe through a distribution partnership with Oxford University Press.

Through a collaborative partnership with Pearson Publishing, Social Explorer developed a student edition used with 22 sociology textbooks, including the top two selling introductory sociology texts.

by Sydney Beveridge
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