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AP CSP Explore Task
This page will help you think deeply about the Explore Task instructions from the College Board.
Why this? Why here?
From the Teacher Survey Feedback Analysis: "Teachers expressed that students were struggling with the suitability of a topic and the requirements of the data. Specifically, these concerns included being able to think about the broader construct of society instead of an individual, relating concept of data to ideas, and finding resources to answer each part of the task."
Also from the Teacher Survey Feedback Analysis: "In terms of preparation, teachers want a better understanding of what counts as data (examples and counterexamples), a list of topics, help knowing if the innovation is the right kind, and additional resources (structured smaller projects, a graphic organize, videos with explanations) and practice questions that lead up to the type of questions on AP task)."
Actual teacher feedback: "I need more support in understanding what data is acceptable and what is not (more examples and counterexamples) as well as with data, security and privacy concerns."
- AP CSP Assessment Overview and Performance Task Directions for Students - instructions for both the Explore Task and the Create Task, exam reference sheet, and scoring guidelines
- AP CSP: The Exam - official College Board CSP Exam site with exam information, scoring information, and example Explore Task submissions with detailed commentary on the scores these submissions received (looking at these may help you ensure that your submission will earn you full credit)
- Look at the two official links shown above first and often as you work on your Performance Tasks.
Choosing an Innovation
Note: We added the apostrophe to this quote.
The College Board Explore Task directions (linked above) ask you to "analyze a computing innovation's impact on society, economy, or culture and explain how this impact could be beneficial and/or harmful." When you are thinking about innovations that you might use for your own submission, reflect on how well you'll be able to use that innovation to complete the Explore Task Directions. Consider:
- Is this actually a computing innovation?
For example, near field communication isn't a computing innovation; it's a standard that supports communication between computing innovations.
- Can you describe the primary purpose of the technology? What was it designed to do?
- Can you identify both positive and negative impacts of this innovation on society, economy, or culture (not just individuals)?
For example, it's not enough to say "it will make people less social." You'd need to describe the impact on society. What would change in our culture? For example, email has allowed people all over the world to send messages almost instantly, but since people aren't buying as many stamps, the public postal service (in the U.S. and other countries) is collapsing, which means that people who do need to mail something will have to use a private service.
- Can you identify how the innovation uses data? See also the "Describing How Your Innovation Uses Data" section below.
- Are you able to find information about "data storage, data privacy, or data security concerns" related to this innovation?
The Explore Task directions ask you to "produce a computational artifact" that explains the "computing innovation’s intended purpose, its function, or its effect". This could be a video, an recording, or a PDF of a text document or slide show.
- Before you begin working on your artifact, be sure that the innovation you use will work well for the task. Can you clearly answer each of the questions above?
Researching Your Topic
You learned about search engines in Unit 4 Lab 4, but you may not know that you can use Boolean operators to make your searches more specific.
Choose sources that are related to the goals of the explore task (describing the positive and/or negative impacts on humanity, how the innovation uses data, etc.).
- You can use
OR (in capital letters) to find either search term. For example, typing
phones OR tablets will give you all the pages that include either the word "phones" or the word "tablets."
- You can use
- at the beginning of a word to exclude a word from your search results. For example, typing
phones OR tablets -apple will give you all the pages about either phones or tablets that do not have the word "apple" on them.
Anybody can post anything online, even if it isn't true. So whenever you are reading something online, you have to think about who is saying it and decide for yourself whether they know what they are talking about and you should use them to back up your work. In addition to considering what they say (does it make sense? is it well-written?), you might consider the reputation and achievements of the author, the publisher, the website, and/or the funder to help you decide.
For example, who wrote BJC? (Look at the very bottom of the page.) Who supported it financially? Do you trust these organizations? How could you check whether the information at the bottom of the page is true?
Describing How Your Innovation Uses Data
The Explore Task directions ask you to "explain how a computing innovation consumes, produces, or transforms data." You only need to do one of these for your innovation.
After you have drafted your response to the Explore Task, take time to make sure you are addressing the data explanation completely:
Reread the directions, and check your work against them carefully.
- Make sure that your response is clear about the specific kind of data that you are describing (numbers, images, text, audio, etc.). Don't just call it "data." What kind of data is it?
- Make sure you don't to mix up the data with the innovation. For example, don't describe GPS as data; GPS is a technology that uses data.
- Make sure you don't to mix up the data with the part of the innovation that collects the data. For example, a camera or a heat sensor aren't data; the images or temperature values reported by them are.
- Make sure you describe how the data are used. You can describe how the innovation collects, creates, or changes data.
Here are some examples of how innovations use data:
- GPS (Global Positioning System) consumes distances to satellites orbiting the earth and transforms that data to compute your location (latitude and longitude), speed, and direction of travel.
- Self-driving cars consume GPS data, maps, traffic data, and weather data. They produce more data on traffic and road conditions and, in event of an accident, they generate crash data (such as what speed the car was traveling and images from on-board cameras).
- Agricultural drones use GPS data together with data from their accelerometers (that measure changes in speed), gyroscopes (that measure orientation), cameras, and pressure sensors to produce images of crops in order to find irrigation problems, pest infestation, etc.
These brief examples are based on the example Explore Task submissions on the College Board website. You can view the complete examples, see their scores, and read commentary on how they were graded on the AP CSP: The Exam
Describing Concerns about Data
The College Board Explore Task directions ask you to "describe how data storage, data privacy, or data security concerns are raised based on the capabilities of the computing innovation."
Make sure that the concern you describe is actually related to the data.
For example, a data-related concern about self-driving cars would be having the location data hacked so the driver can be tracked in their travels. A non-data-related concern about the same topic would be how self-driving cars would put people who drive for a living out of work and increase unemployment; that could count as a harmful impact on society but not as a concern involving the data.
- Make sure that the concern is real. With new technologies, people get concerned about all kinds of things that can't really happen. Be sure your describe a concern that's actually legitimate.
Citing Your Sources
Whenever you do research, you need to cite (acknowledge) the sources of your research. This helps readers know where to go for more information and how much of what you say is your own thinking vs. someone else's (neither is better, but it's important to be clear what is what).
There are two basic ways to use sources:
Either way, you need to cite your sources. This usually involves listing some combination of author, date, title, website address, etc. so your readers can find what you read. The College Board's directions have specific instructions for how to cite sources for the Explore Task.
- You can use quotes from your sources, in which case you have to copy the text exactly and use quotation marks around the copied text.
- Or you can describe what you learned from your sources in your own words, in which case you don't need quotation marks and can't copy the text exactly.
The general rule is that you can copy up to 4 words in a row (which is useful for naming ideas like self-driving car technology), but if you copy 5 or more words, you need quotes.
As you've probably heard in school, plagiarism (copying someone else's ideas without giving them credit) is a serious offense, and you can avoid it by giving credit to the authors whose work you've read.
- Go the AP CSP: The Exam website, and look at some of the Explore Task examples and the commentary on their scores. Then, use the scoring guidelines in the directions to grade own Explore Task. Change anything you think you need to in order to get full points.