Data Detectives: A Data Science Program for Middle Grade Learners

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Journal of Statistics and Data Science Education


Taylor & Francis



Data science is a highly interdisciplinary field that comprises various principles, methodologies, and guidelines for the analysis of data. The creation of appropriate curricula that use computational tools and teaching activities is necessary for building skills and knowledge in data science. However, much of the literature about data science curricula focuses on the undergraduate university level. In this study, we developed an introductory data science curriculum for an out of school enrichment program aimed at middle grade learners (ages 11–13). We observed how the participants in the program (n = 11) learned data science practices through the combination of nonprogramming activities and programming activities using the language R. The results revealed that participants in the program were able to investigate statistical questions of their creation, perform data analysis using statistics and the creation of data visuals, make meaning from their results, and communicate their findings. These results suggest that a series of learner-centered nonprogramming and programming activities using R can facilitate the learning of data science skills for middle-school age students.