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Unlocking Data Insights: UNM/Bosque School Coding Camp Empowers High School Students

Unlocking Data Insights: UNM/Bosque School Coding Camp Empowers High School Students

In a world where data is everywhere, the ability to analyze and interpret information is a vital skill. Recognizing this, the University of New Mexico and Bosque School teamed up with doctoral students Rachel Seddon and Joshua Cortez to launch an innovative coding camp aimed at high school students. We had the opportunity to sit down with Dan Shaw, the Field Science Coordinator at Bosque School, to learn more about this exciting initiative.

"Science involves so much data and analysis, but it doesn’t help anybody if you can't explain it and have other access to it," explains Shaw. Seddon and Cortez saw an opportunity to bridge this gap by creating a training program focused on using the statistical open-source platform "R" to represent data effectively. Their goal was to empower students to make their data more accessible and comprehensible, ultimately enabling them to communicate their findings more effectively.

The coding workshop attracted students from five different local high schools, all eager to enhance their data analysis skills. Participants participated in hands-on learning experiences guided by Seddon and Cortez, who shared their expertise and insights. With the support of Bosque School's IT team, teachers Kim and Matt Fike, each student was provided with loaner computers preloaded with the necessary software, ensuring seamless participation in the workshop.

Dan discussed the benefits and lessons that Abby M., a Bosque School senior, experienced attending the coding workshop. Abby had been conducting research on javelinas, using stable isotope analysis to examine their diet. Through the workshop, she gained the skills necessary to visualize her data and uncovered significant insights. By comparing hair samples collected from different time periods, Abby discovered clear dietary differences, indicating the presence of multiple animals rather than an individual. This revelation opened new avenues for her research and highlighted the power of data analysis in scientific inquiry.

Reflecting on the success of the coding camp, Shaw emphasized the collaborative effort involved. "Our responsibility at Bosque School is to be the facilitator, to help get the word out to schools beyond Bosque School so that other students from other schools can participate," he says. With plans to continue and expand the program in the future, Shaw is excited about the possibilities for further collaboration with Seddon, Cortez, and the broader educational community.

The UNM/Bosque School Coding Camp exemplifies the transformative potential of collaboration and hands-on learning experiences. By equipping students with the skills to unlock insights from data, this initiative is empowering the next generation of scientists and innovators to make meaningful contributions to the world.