March 22, 2023 — Thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and the West Big Data Innovation Hub, UC San Diego undergraduate data science student Minchan Kim has been able to apply knowledge learned in his data science classes to outreach efforts to local high school students. He has done this as a member of the DataJam team at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) on campus.
DataJam is a program that began in 2013 to nurture the next generation of data scientists. It is led by Pittsburgh DataWorks in affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh. It started as an annual extracurricular program to train high school teachers to coach student teams through an informal data-science competition. After the pandemic, the program began to expand through remote learning and made a connection with Kimberly Mann Bruch of SDSC, who led a team of students from the Pala Reservation in a study of water quality in a small section of the San Luis Rey River.
“We are ecstatic about the sessions that Minchan has been sharing with our 2023 DataJam team, which consists of students from the Pala Band of Mission Indians Learning Center and the Torrey Pines High School,” said Bruch, DataJam mentor and science writer at SDSC. “The students came up with the idea of comparing datasets of coastal bluebirds with inland bluebirds, and Minchan has been teaching the team how to filter datasets that we acquired via our partnerships with the San Diego Audobon Society and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.”
Specifically, Kim downloaded the needed information from ebird.org, which graciously provided the DataJam team with open access to the datasets, and has been working with the students via Zoom to show them how to filter data using tools ranging from the simple Google sheets method to the more complex use of the statistical analysis program known as R.
“I have always wished that I was exposed to this world when I was younger so I could start learning earlier, and with this program, I hope to introduce and help spread the world of data science as early as possible,” said Kim. “As it is my first year as a DataJam mentor, I am really excited to see how these skills may be represented in a multitude of projects varying different subjects – starting with the bluebird project.”
So far he has educated students about how to compare and employ datasets for practical purposes – including Amara Sanchez, DataJam team lead for students at the Pala Band of Mission Indians Learning Center.
“It has been really fun to learn from Minchan about how to compare data as I really like math and this gives me a chance to see real-life uses,” said Sanchez, a seventh grader at Sullivan Middle School in Bonsall. “I am excited to see how our team does in the DataJam Grand Finale that will be taking place later this spring and thank Minchan for helping us with not only our data, but also preparing our poster for that.”
To watch the SDSC DataJam’s Grand Finale in late April via Zoom, contact Bruch at [email protected].
Source: Henry Lemersal, San Diego Supercomputer Center