Corrie Schroeder

Sr Project Manager

Milwaukee Academy of Science Students Explore Data Science Careers

The Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute and the Milwaukee Academy of Science recently partnered to introduce 7th graders to data science, and potential career paths in the field, through a virtual hands-on learning experience that led to a 78% satisfaction rate from the students.

MAS strives to provide engaging opportunities for students to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematic) careers and the collaboration with the NMDSI made sense. “We know we need to reach students before they head into high school when they begin to decide their future course of study. We want to expose students to technology careers, including data science, so they understand the vast possibilities they have before deciding on a major,” commented Mark Zachar, Program Manager for the NMDSI.

Through the NMDSI, a group of sixteen data science professionals from Northwestern Mutual volunteered to work with a select group of 7th grade math students from MAS. Volunteers met with small groups of students in virtual classrooms to walk through a data science workflow that examined how advertising works on Instagram. The students were asked what should be shown to Instagram users to predict the outcome of what the user will buy next. The students developed their hypotheses, drafted quantitative survey questions, collected data, and created models to showcase their results. Students were able to present their projects to the Northwestern Mutual volunteers, getting experience describing the data’s relationship and explaining whether their analysis confirmed or disproved their hypothesis. They were also able to get a crash course in Python, a programming language that can be used for a variety of tasks including building websites and video games.

The MAS students entered the eight-lesson program with little knowledge of data science and left with an introductory knowledge of the field, an understanding of how local companies are using data science in decision making, and an awareness of required studies needed to prepare themselves for a career in data science. When asked what they enjoyed learning about in data science, most of the students responded with “All of it! I nerded out!”.

Check out this video of the student experience!

Industry and Academia: Our Differences Are Our Competitive Advantage

As the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute celebrates its two-year anniversary, see how we’re leveraging the best of both worlds – industry and academia – to make Milwaukee a premier destination for data science talent.