Skip to content

Introducing students and teachers to data science

We’re working on an exciting new area of work – exploring how to introduce students and teachers to data science.

There’s a huge short-fall of skills in big data, data analysis, and machine learning, and we’re aiming to raise awareness of data science among students and to stimulate their interest in further study.

Data Science at Key Stage 5

By developing some initial courses that students can take alongside or after A level Mathematics or Core Maths, we’re exploring ways to introduce and teach data science to young people. What we’re learning from this practical approach will inform our future work on data science education, including the design of potential future curricula and qualifications.

Our data science courses aim to give young people a hands-on introduction to the field, which will develop their understanding and skills and raise their awareness of the broad and burgeoning career opportunities it offers. We have already produced a free self-study Introduction to Data Science course. This work was funded by the Arm School Program, and you can read about their involvement in this media release. The materials were piloted with over 100 schools and colleges in the summer of 2020. What we learned from this pilot, which is summarised in this report, helped us to further develop the course. The resulting short course is available for anyone to access, and we anticipate a high level of uptake.

We want to continue to develop our understanding of how a data science curriculum can be implemented and assessed, and we’re now working on to a second phase of development. This involves developing a longer taught course and trialling different methods of assessment. 

The new Data Science Taught Course will run for the first time this year. This course is designed for Year 13 A level Mathematics students. It features weekly online lessons, with supporting study material. The students are assessed through both project work and examination. The teaching and marking of the assessment is offered by MEI tutors.

We’re underwriting the development of the new taught course from our reserves, and are looking for a small number of select partners to contribute funding to make this work viable. Please get in touch to find out more about our work in this area and how you could support it.

Data Science at Key Stage 3

We’re also exploring how data science can be introduced to younger students. We want to understand how this can be done in an effective and engaging way. We are taking a hands-on approach to achieving this through our involvement in an international project to pilot innovative data skills enrichment with Key Stage 3 students.

The Data Explorers programme is sponsored by the technology company NetApp and has been developed by TERC, the leading US-based STEM education organisation. It has already been piloted in the USA and India, and MEI is now leading a UK-based pilot in three schools near NetApp’s HQ, close to Heathrow, with a view to making the opportunity more widely available should the pilot be successful.

Data Explorers is designed as an after-school club, targeted at disadvantaged students who would not otherwise have this kind of opportunity. It comprises 12 hours of teaching, including student activities with data using the  CODAP platform, and exploratory project work. Students develop their skills and competencies using social issue data on topics that they care about, such as climate change. The course also offers insights into what data scientists do and careers in the field.

Sessions will be delivered by an MEI educator in conjunction with a school lead teacher, and project work will be supported by local NetApp employees.

If you would like to express an interest in taking part in the pilot from January 2022, please get in touch.