Dana Hall has been awarded a grant by the Edward E. Ford Foundation to create a Data Science Program, beginning with a course combining Social Studies, Statistics and Computer Science to initially be offered to 11th and 12th grade students during the 2023-24 school year.
In the grant proposal, faculty members from the Computer Science, Math and Social Studies departments outlined the following goals for teaching Data Science to Dana Hall students:
- Preparing students for college, where nearly every major is now expected to take a Data Science course;
- preparing students for citizenship in the modern world as potential future professional consumers of vast quantities of data and aware and responsible owners of their own personal data;
- bridging the gap between different disciplines using the language of Data Science;
- teaching students to recognize and differentiate among various types of data all around us – quantitative, textual, spatial, visual, among other types;
- and teaching students to be better empirical thinkers who answer research questions rigorously, with evidence.
"In the 21st century, data rules. We use it to describe the world, predict trends, and make inferences from samples to populations. Our own personal data is continually collected, stored, and analyzed by companies and governments, making it very important to become educated data consumers and producers,” said Math department member Alla Baranovsky, who will be one of the three teachers leading the development of the new course. “Dana Hall students learn to ask great empirical questions in many disciplines. In this class, they will also learn to answer them using rigorous modern methods. Students will be taught to find data, clean and prepare it for analysis, visualize and explore it, and build models. Students will produce an application at the end of the year showcasing their data analysis project."
The program will also showcase interdisciplinary collaboration amongst members of the Dana Hall faculty. “I am hopeful that this course will not only provide new and rich learning opportunities for students but also for our faculty as we have the opportunity to build integrated, interdisciplinary learning opportunities from the ground up,” said Social Studies department member Brian Cook, the second member of the team of teachers who will develop the course. “Integration will be in the DNA of this course, and the work we're doing will hopefully help us build models of collaboration that can facilitate further and future collaboration across the curriculum.”
Engineering and Computer Science department head Pat Townsend, the third member of the interdisciplinary team, noted that the new course is directly linked to the objectives of Dana Hall’s Vision 2025 strategic plan. “Our goal is to encourage more girls to immerse themselves in STEAM courses by creating various opportunities for accelerating and advancing development,” she said. “I am excited to be part of this new adventure at Dana Hall because this course will take us one step closer to preparing our students for the challenging STEAM courses they will face in college.”
The E.E. Ford Foundation, which seeks to improve secondary education by supporting U.S. independent schools and encouraging promising practices, will provide a $75,000 grant, to be matched 1:1 by the School to develop the Data Science Program. Funds will cover salaries for the development and initial offering of the course, provide professional development for the faculty teaching the course, purchase specialized laptops for students and faculty, and cover the costs to present the course to other schools and to expand the discipline within Dana Hall. If you are interested in supporting this grant with matching funds or learning more about the opportunity, please contact Chief Advancement Officer Christie Baskett at (781) 489-1371.