Industry experts give youth an introduction to data science
In partnership with the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute, UW-Milwaukee’s College for Kids & Teens program now offers a data science certificate track for students in grades 6-12. Not only are there several data science courses in the new track, but through the NMDSI, the curriculum was heavily influenced by subject matter experts in the field of data science.
Aamodini Gupta, Data Scientist at Northwestern Mutual and Lauren Dominick, Senior Director of Data Science at Northwestern Mutual acted as “curriculum consultants” for the new program. The lead teachers partnered with Gupta and Dominick to review their curriculum and lesson plans. The goal was to provide a more robust learning opportunity and allow students to learn from data science professionals.
The students learned the basics about data science, how to use data in meaningful ways, and its application in everyday life. They also got an introductory understanding of Python programming techniques, how to examine the relationship between statistics and data, and utilizing data and design thinking in an exploration of entrepreneurship. The students also got to directly apply their newly learned data science skills to a very timely issue as they visualized and analyzed publicly available COVID-19 data.
It wasn’t only beneficial for the students; the experts took a few things away from the experience too. “I didn’t realize the challenges involved in creating a curriculum for a wide range of age groups. It forced me to think back on the basics of data science and processes I go through on instinct,” Gupta said.
Instilling an interest in STEM curriculum is a key to engaging students in careers in data science and technology in the future. “It was fun to be part of the development of coursework that’s really formative to the understanding of data science,” Dominick stated.