Our team wanted to utilize open source data for greater transparency in the education sector. We aim to help inform parents, students, teachers, and other concerned community members about the reality of underperforming schools in the United States. We decided to start with New York City, where three of our team members experienced the public education system firsthand. We want to show that education inequality is more than demographics and test scores -- we have a duty to provide every child with a safe, clean, quality public education. Our hack shows that we are failing in New York City.
What it does
Our hack is a website which provides graphic data and links to relevant datasets which are either hard to understand in their raw form or not easily found without sifting through pages and pages of data on data.ny.gov. We focus on the data that user interfaces like data.nysed.gov do not show upfront, such as violence in and around schools, dangerous lead levels in water, and poor physical infrastructure. We also provide functionality to find NYC petitions for education improvement, contact your local representatives, and donate to local schools.
How we built it
Marissa and Isabel focused on data science, finding datasets on data.ny.gov and parsing and visualizing the data using Python, R, and Microsoft Excel. Hilary built the framework for the website using Python flask and helped with the front-end in HTML and CSS. Sama designed and built our front-end user interface using HTML, CSS, jQuery, and Bootstrap.
Challenges we ran into
Three of our team members were relative beginners, having never taken a college course in computer science. It was a learning process to get used to version control and using Github. Sama and Hilary were faced with learning to do more complex front-end development like linking and resizing images, and organizing and creating a web page hierarchy. We tried to implement Algolia search into our product and after running into bugs eventually gave up. Isabel also tried to utilize here.com
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Our team communicated very well and we all worked almost nonstop the entire hackathon and are very proud of that. We are all proud of our individual components -- e.g. the homepage design, learning to create graphs with Python, just getting a website up and running! -- all of which are important to the final design.
What we learned
As mostly beginners, we really learned to troubleshoot and debug as we ran into hitches along the way. We became efficient Googlers to look up things we weren't sure how to do. We also truly learned more about New York City and benefited from the goal of our design which was to expose data. We also learned for sure what API stands for.
What's next for Know Your School
We ran into a lot of data that didn't make it to our prototype -- such as the effect on school performance and school violence when underresourced NYC schools are forced to share buildings, or the positive correlation between percent of students on free lunch and percent of school dropouts. These are analyses people should see if we want to bring awareness to the state of NYC public education. We would like to add more data next, and make our contact representatives and donate to schools pages fully functional.