Data Science class introduces new way of math

Julian Mejia, Reporter

Data Science is a class that blends mathematical concepts from statistics with concepts from the natural and social sciences. It is taught by Mr. Spivey who is going on seven years of teaching and his second year teaching Data Science. Mr. Spivey graduated from Fresno Pacific University in 2015, where he also did his studies for his teaching credential.

Data Science accounts for math credit in the A-G course requirements and is starting to become a preferred class in students’ academic profile along with Statistics. The class is also very beneficial because it provides experience with using applications that do most of the “heavy lifting” of calculation and proficiency in being able to work with varying and larger sets of data. And from that information, the applications make sense of data, finds patterns in it, and is able to report trends and predictions from the data.

Mr. Spivey said a day’s work in the class is, “While the work can vary from day to day like many classes, one frequent flow of class is to start with a Data Talk. This is a statistical visual that students work to make sense of, draw conclusions from, and (often) more importantly – learn to ask what information is needed for a clearer picture. Then we will have instructional time about a statistical topic, followed by an exploratory exercise to see how that topic is used and applied. Lastly, a presentation is created about it or a reflection is written to internalize the learning. Of course, this is a generalization, and there are many more things we do.”

The main subjects Data Science covers are data analysis, sampling, correlation/causation, bias and uncertainty, probability, modeling with data, making and evaluating data-based arguments and more. Lastly, the overall feedback from students is very positive; comments such as the fact that they can work with real data – not made-up or pretend scenarios – make the class interesting, and that students feel they gain more real-life application of mathematics and data fluency.

The course is fully project-based and there are no tests, so students have enjoyed demonstrating their new understanding in alternative ways.