The paint may still be drying at recently-renovated Pomerene Hall, but that didn’t deter 28 intrepid high-school age women from participating in the Women in Data Science Summer Camp hosted by the Translational Data Analytics Institute. CURA Outreach Coordinator Adam Porr had the opportunity to work with this remarkable group of girls as part of the “Big Data for Good” session.
In this session, small groups of campers rotated among four stations where they heard data scientists describe how they are working to address real-world problems using data. Adam’s presentation began with a simple interactive exercise to introduce the concept of spatial analysis and to encourage the students to think spatially, followed by a brief introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a tool for conducting spatial analysis. To relate these concepts to real-world problems, Adam discussed the problem of blight and land vacancy in Rust Belt cities and demonstrated a web GIS application that CURA built to help communities address these issues. The application, known as “Prospector”, was created for researchers in the City and Regional Planning department in support of their Ohio Land Exchange (OH/LEX) project. The students were asked to simulate a use-case for the app by contemplating the needs of a day care center and using the app to identify vacant parcels that satisfy those needs. Finally, Adam described the mounting need for socially-minded data scientists and challenged the girls to take advantage of open data and open source tools to get started right away learning the concepts and tools and putting them to use to improve their communities.
If the campers’ excitement and their thoughtful responses are any indication, the future for these young women – and for data science - is bright indeed!