Creative thinking adds up on data science


Gillen Primary School is equipping students for the careers of the future, with a focus on one of the fastest growing areas - data science.

As part of a Google Australia Education Grant, the school has been working with the Australian Data Science Education Institute’s Dr Linda McIver to build data science skills into the curriculum.

Dr McIver said there are opportunities to weave data science into literacy, humanities and social sciences and art classes.

"With Year 6 we've done classes on Federation, cricket, measurement, and paper plane building that all involved data science,” she said.

“We've built some data visualisation into a Year 1 craft class, and even devised some data literacy activities to use when the kids line up for class.”

Gillen Primary School teachers Lauren Wapling and Matthew Axten said teachers work with data all the time.

“From test scores to class sizes, we’re constantly using data in the classroom,” Miss Wapling said.

“Our goal is to encourage students to use it in classes that aren’t obviously related to maths or science,” Mr Axten said.

The two teacher have been collaborating with Dr McIver to design projects that give students an opportunity to use data science and STEM skills to solve meaningful daily challenges.

“Data science is one of the fastest growing professions and data plays and increasingly important role in our lives. Building students' data science and data literacy is essential,” Dr McIver said.

We’re encouraging students to use data science from personal development goals, such as improving their handwriting, to solving problems in their community.”

Dr McIver said she’s learnt a lot from in her week working at the school and hopes to return.

“Because Gillen is already doing incredibly engaging and relevant activities with their students, adding some data science skills in to the mix has been really rewarding.”

Creative thinking adds up on data science
Dr Linda McIver, students Zac Glover, Noelene Forbes and Nyabiey Wuordol and teachers Matthew Axten and Lauren Wapling puzzle out how to use data science skills in their everyday lives.

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