An Unexpected Twist: Student Wins DS+ Collaboration Challenge

Data Science 4 Everyone
Data Science 4 Everyone
3 min readDec 19, 2023

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Though the DS + Collaboration Challenge was geared towards educators, one student submitted a lesson plan that couldn’t be ignored.

The winning lesson entitled “Hamster Project!” created by Danika Gupta tracked the running habits of three hamsters.

At the beginning of the year, DS4E invited 9–12th grade teachers in CS, science, social studies, and math to co-create lesson plans that highlight the shared data science and data literacy skills that unite these fields. Too few opportunities currently exist for teachers in these subjects to collaborate across their disciplines and incorporate data science into K12 instruction, and DS4E wanted to create a challenge that would spark collaboration across these subject communities.

Educators submitted lesson plans created in collaboration with their colleagues across the disciplines and intended for use in K-12 classrooms. All entries were evaluated by a panel of judges based on the following criteria: potential for student engagement, cross-disciplinary approach, data science focus, usability and feasibility, and clarity and audience fit. In short, we were looking for lesson plans teachers could easily implement in their classrooms while showing students the magic of data science.

After evaluating all of the spectacular entries, our panel of judges landed on one grand prize winner and two finalists:

  • Danika Gupta, The Harker Upper School, San Jose, CA
  • Matt Kennedy, Kirksville High School, Kirksville, MO
  • Arty Smith, Kent Denver School, Cherry Hills Village, CO

Finalists received cash prizes recognizing their work and the effort made to develop their content. Winning lesson plans are featured on the DS4E website and shared throughout the DS4E networks, contributing to a library of high-quality data science lessons accessible to educators worldwide.

Danika Gupta, a high school student, was named the DS+Collaboration Challenge Grand Prize Winner and created her lesson plan in collaboration with AI4Science, a non-profit organization furthering the intersection of science, data science and AI, which she also founded. Unlike the four other finalists, Danika was the only student in the mix — let alone the entire submission pool — and created her lesson plan entitled “The Hampster Project!” which encouraged students to learn data science on time series using an engaging and familiar subject — hamsters!

From Danika’s Lesson Plan Abstract:

“Using Google Sheets, students explore data gathered about three hamsters over one year of their life. By analyzing the data, creating visualizations, and comparing the data for different hamsters, students learn the power of sensor datasets and data science on time series data can be used in real-life applications such as animal care. The lesson combines data science with the Internet of Things and science concepts such as animal health.”

Danika’s lesson plan, along with all of the other finalists’ winning lesson plans, can be accessed here on the DS4E website.

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Data Science 4 Everyone
Data Science 4 Everyone

Based at the University of Chicago, DS4E is a national initiative building data science and data literacy education in K-12.