Should High Schoolers be Learning about Big Data?

Is high school too early to start the conversation about big data? Not if you ask those involved in Pittsburgh Dataworks’ latest project: Pittsburgh Data Jam.

One of the major themes related to big data is that of the demand for data analysis skills that has been created. Awareness of this gap between the supply and demand for big data talent has already led universities around the country and world to offer big data related programs. Here’s a list of universities offering graduate programs in big data.

Right here in Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh are offering big data degree programs at both bachelors and masters level.

However, the awareness about big data and its impact has not yet reached high schools.

It’s important it does and leading schools in Pittsburgh agreed.

As high school students begin to think about their futures and career choices, they need to understand the new possibilities that have opened up with big data.

Even if they don’t choose to become data scientists, they need to understand that in future almost all careers – from teaching to doctors to journalists – are going to require them to work with data analytics.

When Dataworks reached out to area schools to propose a big data related pilot project, the response was enthusiastic. Faculty from Bethel Park, Ellis School, Shaler Area High School, and Sewickley Academy are joining hands with Pittsburgh Dataworks to bring big data education and awareness to their high school students.

And the result is Pittsburgh’s first Data Jam!

Pittsburgh Data Jam is a pilot program designed to educate high school students about big data and its impact on personalization, prediction, privacy and professions. For about 40-50 students, the exposure expands to include a hands-on data challenge where students choose a problem/project of their choice and show how data analytics can be used to understand and solve that problem. In addition they get to visit area big data companies and talk to data scientists in the field today.

The challenge is just starting, the enthusiasm is amazing and the positive impact is already happening. Stay in touch and see how the competition is progressing and what the final awards ceremony shapes up to be by following the Data Jam community via Twitter.

Bethel Park High School

Bethel Park High School

Shaler Area School District
Sewickley Academy