STEM Fellowship’s High School Big Data Challenge is an inquiry-driven experiential learning program that provides students an opportunity to learn and apply the fundamentals of data science – a crucial skill set for a young researcher in the digital age – through independent research projects. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted high school education, at the same time creating a “fertile ground” for interdisciplinary, student-driven STEM education. This year, we invited students to explore issues of Equality and Equal Access in Education and to suggest their own evidence-based solutions, using Open Data and the principles of Open Science. Students explored many topics, ranging from using machine learning to find hidden socioeconomic factors in access to education, to the efficacy of various modes of instruction. We developed in-depth learning modules designed to lead the student from zero-knowledge to an elementary working proficiency in data science. The students learn a broad range of data analytics tools and programming languages which are useful for uncovering hidden patterns, trends in structured and unstructured data. Some of the tools the students learnt and used includes Python, R, LaTeX, and machine learning. On behalf of the STEM Fellowship, we extend our sincere congratulations to all students who participated in the challenge, and wish them the best for their future endeavours. We want to express our appreciation to all the mentors and volunteers. This program would not be possible without patronage of CC UNESCO and generous support of our sponsors: RBC Future Launch, Let’s Talk Science, Digital Science, Kimberly Foundation, SCWST, CISCO Academy, Canadian Science Publishing, Faculty of Science UofC. It has been a privilege for us to witness the analytical capabilities of the next generation of students firsthand, and we are certain all entrants will continue to demonstrate excellence in their respective careers.

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