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LIDA Open Data Science for Schools


As part of a widening participation initiative in 2023, and in addition to their data projects, LIDA data scientists and Programme members worked with the Keighley Schools Together network to co-create and lead bespoke digital skills events to inspire, engage and enable local secondary pupils.

Keighley was the chosen location for this pilot as it scores most highly for the deprivation markers of food insecurity, low aspiration, and lack of positive role models – some of the greatest barriers to seeing digital careers as relatable, accessible and possible. For example, few pupils from Keighley schools apply to study at the University of Leeds.

How we did it

16 May 2023. University of Leeds’ Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) members took their Data Scientist Development Programme to Carlton Keighley Secondary School. Owen Higgert with students working on one of the projects.Our goal with this pilot was to use targeted engagement events to widen participation by role modelling our own data scientists and the potential of digital skills in career-making and effecting positive change. By providing early years students with skills opportunities and role models to self-determine their future educational and career pathways, we hope to shift the dial on their ability to feel they have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the world around them.

We co-produced two digital skills events in partnership with Bradford City Council’s Act Locally Keighley, Keighley Schools Together network, represented by Carlton Keighley Secondary School, Raspberry Pi, and the charitable organisation Rethink Food.

Event 1 took place on 16th May in Carlton Keighley secondary school with 90 students from years 8 and 9. It was led by LIDA data scientists who designed and delivered three activities themed around the food environment, each of which would teach digital skills: A Canteen Mystery; How to Programme using Scratch; and How Sustainable is your Eating?

For event 2 on 4th July, we invited students from Carlton Keighley to come and visit us at LIDA, where they took part in a group Challenge Activity, a Python introductory session, and various virtual reality activities in partnership with the University’s Horizons Institute and the new School of Computing lab, HELIX.

The feedback

“I believe we’ve made an impression on the minds of these students. I'm proud to have been a part of the project, and I believe it’s just the beginning of a growing movement to make data science education more accessible and inclusive.” LIDA Data Scientist Elliot Karikari

What’s next

Under the banner “digital skills for good for all”, the Open Data Science for Schools project has so far delivered digital skills events for 120 year 8 and 9 pupils and will continue as a DSDP spin-out and core LIDA activity.

Further reading

Inspiring the next generation of data scientists

The project is cited as an example of increasing digital opportunities in the recent Child of the North All-Party Parliamentary Group report.

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