Introducing sixth-formers to Data Science

Exeter Maths SchoolA-level students at Exeter Maths School recently took part in a Data Science course, collaboratively developed by one of the school’s mathematics teachers and Dr Tim Paulden (innovation & development manager at ATASS Sports). The six-week course was designed to give students a hands-on, R-based introduction to some of the skills and techniques used in this rapidly developing field, with the programme of activities including:

  • Interrogating a data-set containing 20 years of UK Singles and Albums chart data, compiled via web-scraping techniques
  • Analysing and visualising text from the Harry Potter book series (see image below)
  • Using simulation to quantify the likely cost of completing a World Cup sticker album, modelled as an instance of the “coupon collector’s problem”
  • Devising and implementing statistical models to predict the future positions of songs in the UK Singles chart (including an introduction to out-of-sample model assessment)

Comments from the students who took the class included:

“A crash course in the key areas of Data Science from interrogating data to visualization, modelling, simulation and prediction. Focused on learning techniques as used in industry instead of being too theory-heavy. I'd strongly recommend having a taste of this innovative field.”

“Absolutely take this course! A great way to practice statistics and learn R, and a good bit of programming practice.”

“I learnt about a new way to interpret code and I’m really grateful for the advantage it will give me at university.”

“A brilliant guide in how to process data sets to answer your queries.”

“More programming than you could shake a stick at! A chance to learn R and a valuable insight into the importance of data science.”


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