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August 18, 2016 12:52 pm Published by
5 weeks was all the interns had to learn new software and data analytics concepts, use those concepts, and then put together a final presentation; and they did exactly that.

 

I started at rel8ed.to back in March as a Research Analyst Co-op Student with a focus on building a math curriculum to teach students about data analytics. I spent months planning, researching, and organizing everything in order to be able to execute a program that would accomplish this goal. After developing a plan to implement the educ8ed Program in schools, we determined that we needed to have a test run to see how students would cope with the concepts and how much they would be capable of doing. Thus, the educ8ed Internship Program was born.

Once we decided to run an internship program to test our solution, I immediately began planning every small detail of the program. This included everything from the curriculum, to individual lessons, how the lessons would be taught, and an hourly timeline for each day of the program. Once the starting day of the internship arrived, I could hardly wait to see what the students (who ranged from grade eight to second year university) would accomplish. For 3 days a week the local interns would come to the Generator at one and those from Chicago would join us online via webinar for several hours as they learned about data analytics, software, and statistical concepts that they then applied them to their own data sets.

The interns learned concepts that included how to formulate research questions, conduct research, use software like TableauPublic, RapidMiner, and Excel, as well as how to clean data. They also learned concepts like correlations and linear regression, all within 15 classes. It was amazing to see how fast their young minds caught on as they did things that professional adults in the work force do on a regular basis. This level of Big Data Thinking is not currently taught to students despite the fact that it is a necessary skill in many different fields all over the world, and it’s clear the students are capable of learning it.

Now, let’s fast forward to August 9th, 2016: The final day of the educ8ed Internship Program that I had been stressing about for months, and that the interns had been worrying about for weeks. It’s no surprise the interns were nervous as they prepared to present their data findings to a crowd of at least 40 people consisting of family, friends, professors from Brock University and Niagara College, as well as business professionals from the Niagara Region. Despite the nerves and anxiety, the interns did exactly what they had to do and blew the crowd away as they told their data stories. Everyone was amazed that students so young could perform data analysis that many adults find challenging. As Kathir, Leah, Julie, Liam, and Saketh got up and presented their topics and analysis, you could see the emerging realization that it is possible to teach advanced analytics skills to students at such a young age using the software and technology that today’s day and age has to offer. Furthermore, not only is it possible, but it’s something that is necessary to do. Every day people are required to confront information and refer to data to make informative decisions whether they realize it or not, so why not teach our students this essential life skill? Is it not the purpose of our education system to prepare students for the work force and their futures? I think it is important for students to know how to confront information without the math anxiety that so many experience, and to be equipped with the tools to do so efficiently.

Not only did the interns conduct impressive data analysis, but they used data that was relevant to them on real world topics that they found interesting. Once the interns finished their presentations, the room erupted with applause. Everyone was extremely proud of these junior Citizen Data Scientists, and their accomplishments were celebrated afterwards with lunch, networking, certificates and fun swag courtesy of RapidMiner. All my months of hard work have paid off, and as a future teacher, the fact that it positively influenced the students involved makes the experience all the more rewarding.

 

Now it’s time to determine what’s next and what path educ8ed will travel. Will we implement this program in schools? Will we make the educ8ed Internship Program an annual occurrence? Will we transform educ8ed into a fun data summer camp? Subscribe to our educ8ed mailing list for updates to find out: http://eepurl.com/cbiFOb 

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This post was written by Meghan Monaghan

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