The DES team had a very busy June! In addition to the Borders Inspire Festival and the launch of our Teach Data Literacy Handbook, Kate and Jasmeen have travelled near and far to spread the word on data and its importance in the lives of children and young people.

In partnership with SSERC, we ran a one-day professional learning workshop – ‘Data Science in the Secondary Classroom’ – at the SSERC HQ in Dunfermline, open to Secondary school teachers from across Scotland. We even had a couple of teachers joining us virtually from the Isle of Arran!

We returned to Fife the following week to work with Newburgh and Dunbog Primary Schools as part of the Fife STEM futures festival. We ran a couple of workshops on how to make ‘Data Monsters’ using BBC micro:bits (download BBC micro:bits resource for free), and also piloted our “Find the VIKINGS’ Secret Lair” print-an-escape-room puzzle, which will be available to download soon too – watch this space! One of the teachers was so inspired by the activities, and by how engaged her learners were with them, that she signed up on the spot for our upcoming four-day data literacy course for primary teachers!

Closer to home, we ran another pilot of our data escape room activity with rising S1 learners during their transition day at James Gillespie’s High School. Learners used datasets of underground bunkers, wind farms, data centres and undersea fibre-optic internet cables to work out where the evil VIKINGS were building their new secret lair. We hope we reassured learners that Secondary education can involve some play too!

Even closer to home, within the University of Edinburgh itself, we took part in the launch of the new Social Data Science Hub, as panelists on the ‘Teaching Data Science’ panel. We had interesting discussions with academics and students on the ways AI might/should shape education, as well as the importance of interdisciplinarity in education.

More speculative discussions were had at the Workshop on Science and Data Ethics in the Curriculum, hosted by the Learned Societies’ Group on Scottish STEM Education (LSG) at the Royal Society of Edinburgh building. This workshop brought together learners, teachers, academics, and other stakeholders in the education sector in Scotland, to discuss topics such as ‘why do science and data ethics increasingly matter in the 21st century?’ and ‘how do we encourage young people to become critical consumers of knowledge and research?’. The discussion from this workshop will form the foundation of a new strand of work by the LSG, who will push the case for changes to the curriculum in light of the recommendations of the attendees. The DES team look forward to having a voice in this continuing discussion.

Last but far from least, we finished off the month with a trip to Glasgow’s West End, to present at the ‘Outreach & Widening Participation in Mathematical Sciences’ workshop held at the University of Glasgow. We exchanged stories and best practice with colleagues from universities across the UK about how to engage a broader and more diverse set of children and young people with maths and numeracy subjects. We made new connections with members of the School of Maths and Statistics in Glasgow, and the School of Maths in Edinburgh, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with them in future on data-education-related activities.

While Kate and Jasmeen were busy with these workshops, Judy and Holly gave a talk for the Joint Maths Council as part of their event about teaching data science at school. It was great to hear about the other work going on in other parts of the UK and discuss routes to making data science available to more learners.

by Jasmeen Kanwal

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