Harnessing the power of data

Computing CPD at STEM Learning

In the information age, data is powerful. Data science is one of the fastest growing – and best paid – STEM careers. Many young people have little idea about their data, including how it is collected, analysed and used by governments and powerful corporations.

In schools, data is central to both computing and maths but is sometimes taught in silos. This need not be the case. Digital systems offer excellent tools to collect and interpret large amounts of data effortlessly. Maths provides the understanding needed to extract meaning, and the methods to communicate findings clearly.

An understanding of data – from raw sources to reported conclusions – is one of the key skills for young people today. Designing tools to collect the data you need requires thought and planning, whether you survey humans or measure physical quantities using sensors. A better understanding of the limitations of data collection methods can help prevent biased conclusions emerging and can feed-back into improved data collection design.

"One thing is clear – big data is here to stay, creating both threats and opportunities for the adults of tomorrow."

Young people learn simple statistical methods, such as mean, median and mode. Applying even these basic tools to data sets, using the power of any computer or mobile device, can help make sense of them.

Selecting the right chart to communicate the data – and not just opting for the pie chart or bar chart – gives it impact, and a huge range of ICT tools can bring it to life. Learners can employ these tools in presentations, web design, reports… bringing a pride and insight into their work which is priceless to a teacher. 

One thing is clear – big data is here to stay, creating both threats and opportunities for the adults of tomorrow. Those children having confidence and skill with data stand ready to face the future.

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