Data Science for All: NE Hub workshop explores teaching data science to high schoolers

Data science is expanding rapidly in undergraduate education, but at the K-12 level, few schools have integrated this critical subject into their curricula. Many questions must be answered first: how should data science be taught to high schoolers? As a standalone course, or integrated throughout other courses? What level of rigor is appropriate for younger students while still preparing them for college coursework? And what skills and concepts are critical for these future citizens and members of the workforce to learn?

The Northeast Big Data Hub’s Data Science for All initiative is working to facilitate this work through a number of projects. Recently, for example, the Hub and the DS4All team organized a workshop at Cornell Tech that explored ways in which data science can be taught in high schools, while articulating a pathway toward data literacy for both students and teachers. 

The workshop, co-organized by the New York Hall of Science, brought together a diverse group of participants involved with data science education at the high school level, ranging from teachers and informal instructors to university professors and data scientists to NSF leadership. Through talks, open discussion and hands-on breakout activities, the participants discussed what form a data science curriculum might take, and compiled key successes and lessons learned from existing efforts, such as Los Angeles’ Introduction to Data Science (IDS) project.

Keynote speaker Michelle Gilman (University of Baltimore and Data & Society fellow) explored the critical issues of equity and ethics that data science raises, while Kirk Borne (Booz Allen Hamilton) discussed his perspectives on key principles of data science and why it is important for the workforce. Crystal Furman, a director at the College Board, gave a presentation on AP curricula, emphasizing the Board’s interest in this topic. Given the rising importance of data science, the College Board is exploring how this subject might be taught through the AP program, whether as a standalone course or integrated throughout other curricula.  

The goal of  the Data Science for All initiative is to prepare students and lifelong learners to live as data literate citizens as well as to excel in today’s intensely digital workplace. A forthcoming report summarizing workshop findings and opportunities in K-12 data science education will be available at Sign up for updates at the Northeast Big Data Hub mailing list!