We explore challenges in achieving authentic inquiry with data in classrooms from the fifth through the eighth grade. We present the Tabletop, a prototype computer-based data analysis tool based on animated visual representations, and reports on clinical and classroom trials of this tool. Vignettes from clinical sessions illustrate students' understanding of the software interface as well as interacting subtleties of data creation and data analysis. One year of classroom trials is summarized in terms of three important categories of conceptual and cultural prerequisites for successful implementation: a) reasoning about the aggregate, b) the objectification of knowledge, and c) the pragmatic structure of classroom projects.
- Prof Dev