Duke Student Mentors Help Local Girls Build Skills in Data Science
March 18, 2019
On February 22, a Bass Connections project team called the Open Source Pedagogy, Research + Innovation (OSPRI) Lab hosted Day of Data, a hands-on learning event that culminated in a drop-in showcase of data science projects developed by 16 Durham middle-school girls.
The team aims to expand access to quality computer science education among students traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields. Team members have been developing open source curricula for middle-school learners.
Girls who participated in the Day of Data got to work on their own data science projects as they surveyed Duke students on how many hours of sleep they got, what kinds of extracurricular activities they enjoyed and which campus restaurants they preferred the most.
“My group’s topic was health and sports, so our question was how many hours of sleep an average student at Duke gets,” said Hayes Hunter, a Rogers-Herr Middle School student. “We are basing [our data] off what your year might be and what correlation there is between these factors.”
At the start of the day, the girls learned about techniques they could use to gather information. Once groups came up with their research questions, they worked together to prompt Duke students to take the survey they created. After collecting data, the girls analyzed their findings and developed them into visual projects that they presented later that afternoon at the Brodhead Center.
“I think this is one of those opportunities that helps [girls] understand that data science is not just always graphs and charts and tables,” said Ryanne Logan, a counselor at Rogers-Herr Middle School. “It’s not always boring and it’s not something where you have to sit in a cubicle by yourself.”
Logan added, “Today, [girls] got to walk around several different restaurants and interview college students, and I think now they have a better understanding of what data science looks like.”