News

Need help exploring data using technology in your teaching and learning?

Catch up on the latest professional development for Data Science. These webinars are a great starting point to help structure and support STEM opportunities for your colleagues and students.

Data Science Education Meetups

Recommend starting with: What Kinds of Questions Do Students Generate as They View Data Visualizations?

“Thinking about questions makes me think of more questions.”

CensusAtSchool New Zealand – TataurangaKiTeKura Aotearoa celebrates the launch of their tenth biennial survey next month to once again comprehensively chart children’s views of their own lives.

From May 10, the voice of Kiwi students will be heard on issues as wide-ranging as climate change, the amount of time they spend on digital devices, and their own attitudes to when they think it should be legal to drive, vote, buy alcohol, and vape.

New to the survey in 2021 is a question that explores where young people get their news from and how they felt about lockdown learning.

The survey now includes improved bi-lingual support with the ability to toggle between English and te reo Māori.

Another new feature includes an audio option for the English questionnaire to support students with reading difficulties.

CensusAtSchool New Zealand – TataurangaKiTeKura Aotearoa, is a non-profit, online educational project that aims to bring statistics to life in both English and Māori-medium classrooms. Supervised by teachers, students from Years 3-13 anonymously answer 34 questions in English or te reo Māori, and later explore the results in class. CensusAtSchool runs every two years, and in 2019, more than 32,000 students took part, representing approximately 500 schools and 1,000 teachers.

You can preview the questions here. See the registered schools.

CensusAtSchool is a collaborative project involving teachers, the University of Auckland’s Department of Statistics, Stats NZ, and the Ministry of Education.

It is part of an international effort to boost statistical capability among young people and is carried out in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the US, Japan, and South Africa. The countries share some questions so comparisons can be made.

In New Zealand, CensusAtSchool is co-directed by Prof Chris Wild of the Department of Statistics at the University of Auckland and Rachel Cunliffe, a former lecturer in the department who owns web design studio cre8d design and is a commentator on youth culture and online communications. She is the principal media spokesperson for CensusAtSchool and can be contacted at census@stat.auckland.ac.nz or phone 027 3833 746. A high-quality, copyright-free photo of Rachel is available for download here.

Key dates:

  • May 10: CensusAtSchool survey goes live and schools start taking part.
  • May 24*: Interesting initial statistics from the survey data released to media.
  • May 31*: Second release of statistics from the survey data released to media.

* Date dependent on response rate

Making Mathematical Connections.

Check out the extensive program lineup. There is something for everyone, please share this program with your colleagues.

Note the change in venue to Ormiston Junior College.

Register by March 24.

Ihaka Lecture Series 2021

For a general audience (with an interest in Statistics and/or Computing)

Learn more

Register for (free) in-person attendance

10 March at 6:30pm

Data Science in the Connected Era
Dr Simon Urbanek, Senior Lecturer, Department of Statistics, University of Auckland

17 March at 6:30pm

Implementing a Machine-Learning Tool to Support High-Stakes Decisions in Child Welfare: A case study in Human Centred AI
Professor Rhema Vaithianathan, Centre for Social Data Analytics, AUT

 

24 March at 6:30pm

Modelling to support the COVID-19 response in Aotearoa New Zealand
Dr Rachelle Binny, Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research and Te Pūnaha Matatini

Data-Driven Art

Data-Driven Art

One of ODI’s NSF-funded projects, Building Students’ Data Literacy through the Co-design of Curriculum by Mathematics and Art Teachers, is creating learning experiences for middle school students which integrate data science with art.

This past spring, the project researchers conducted a classroom pilot study of a 3-week long unit in collaboration with a math and art teacher pair. The study’s goals were to explore how students use mathematics and art to describe and make claims from data, and to examine the concepts and skills in visual arts, mathematics and data literacy evident in their work. The unit—co-designed with teachers—guided students in two data-based inquiry activities. One activity focused on collecting and using data to describe their experiences during the pandemic, and the second focused on exploring data on teen use of social media collected by Pew Research. Both activities culminated in the creation of art pieces based on the data they analyzed.

Our Data Pathways Community of Practice—for colleges and community colleges building data programs—has more than 25 members and is meeting virtually on a monthly basis.
Join the Community of Practice
Initial results from the students’ culminating art projects suggest that students were engaged in thinking about the patterns in the data, what they meant in context, and how to represent them through art. However, students varied in the extent to which they connected both their inferences and artistic choices to the data evidence, sometimes drawing on personal experience to make inferences, rather than the data, and results from the study suggest students needed more careful scaffolding for making data-based inferences. In the top left example below, a student drew a representation of how many people they saw in the last 5 days of the pandemic and included a key to understanding the data. In the top right exhibit, the yarn represents the percentage of teens who use social media, based on data from the Pew Research survey. And in the bottom left image, a student created a 3-D abstraction of the same Pew data (on teen internet use) using more colorful crayons to represent the teens who use the internet, and using structure to represent the student’s claim that teens who don’t use the internet are more organized and focused.
Due to the pandemic, the research team wasn’t able to pilot test in as many classrooms as they had originally planned, but they were able to adapt the units for online and asynchronous use, using the Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (wise.berkeley.edu) platform. And in this school year, they are working with art and math teachers from four middle schools to build on last year’s findings, and codesign and pilot more arts-integrated data literacy units. This year they hope to incorporate dance as well as visual arts. (Aren’t you curious about dancing to data?!)

We don’t know the form the modules will take this year given the pandemic, but the team is developing curricula designs and plans that are flexible enough to adapt to the different teacher and student contexts—a challenging process, as school circumstances are changing rapidly.

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy holiday!

Randy Kochevar
Director, ODI

Last week the University of California sent a momentous email to 20,000 high schools announcing that they would now accept data science as an alternative to algebra 2 – this has huge implications for schools & students. Read the full announcement

The ZDM special issue on Innovations in statistical modelling to connect data, chance and context is now freely available (open access) during October.

It would be great, if you could distribute the news via your networks.

https://www.springer.com/journal/11858/updates/18235366

Published 9 September 2020

Royal Society Te Apārangi remembers celebrated mathematician Sir Vaughan Jones

It is with sadness we share news of the passing of Sir Vaughan Jones FRS Hon FRSNZ, aged 67, from the complications from an ear infection. Sir Jones will be remembered as a brilliant mathematician who made outstanding contributions to the field of mathematics, scientific research and higher education.

Sir Vaughan Jones was born and raised in New Zealand and went to the University of Auckland, graduating in 1973.

He moved overseas to earn his doctorate from the University of Geneva, and became a Professor of Mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley in 1985.

Despite his career overseas, Sir Vaughan worked hard to promote mathematics of the highest quality in Aotearoa. He has made key contributions to scientific research and post graduate education here in New Zealand and across the globe.

He is best known for the discovery of an unexpected link between the mathematical study of knots – a field dating back to the 19th century – and statistical mechanics, a form of mathematics used to study complex systems with large numbers of components. He found a new polynomial invariant for knots and links in three-dimensional space – something that had been missed by topologists during the preceding 60 years.

His discovery of what is now called the Jones polynomial had origins in the theory of von Neumann algebras.  Friend and long-time colleague of Sir Vaughan, Distinguished Professor Marston Conder FRSNZ told the NZ Herald that his work has had a wide application.

“[His] work in theoretical mathematics, which basically helps distinguish one knot from another, had application in biological science, enabling scientists to identify whether two different types of RNA are from the same source,” Marston said.

“That was an outstanding achievement because from theoretical mathematics, his discoveries had real significance in an entirely different field.”

Because of this work, Sir Vaughan became the first ever winner from the Southern Hemisphere of the Fields Medal in 1990, which is widely regarded as the “Nobel Prize of Mathematics” because of the prestige it carries. He famously accepted the award in an All Blacks rugby jersey. He remains the only New Zealander to have won the Fields Medal.

In 1991, Sir Vaughan was the first winner of the Society’s prestigious Rutherford Medal. In 2012 the Society established the Jones Medal in his honour, for lifetime achievement in pure or applied mathematics or statistics.

Sir Vaughan was elected as a Fellow of The Royal Society, London in 1990 and elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1991. In 2002 he was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DCNZM) (later re-designated Knight Companion KNZM).

Our deepest condolences go out to the whānau and friends of Sir Vaughan – he has left a prominent mark on the academic community, one that will not be forgotten.

Sir Vaughan is survived by his wife, Martha Jones, and three children.

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi

Awash in Data, is a free open-source e-book authored by the fabulous Tim Erickson. Designed for both teachers and students, this rich, interactive resource walks users through introductory lessons in data science with CODAP (Common Online Data Analysis Platform). Embedded CODAP documents bring each lesson to life. Give it a go!