Nov. 28, 2023

Take a dive into data science and try your hand at solving the Labyrinth

UCalgary community invited to take part in Werklund-hosted experiential learning challenge
Barbara Brown
Barbara Brown Werklund School of Education

Do you have what it takes to solve the Labyrinth?

The Werklund School of Education’s Office of Teaching and Learning is extending an invitation for University of Calgary students, instructors, and alumni to take a fun dive into data science and computational thinking as part of an experiential learning opportunity the first week of December.

Partnering with Callysto, a free online learning tool that helps Grade 5 to 12 students and teachers learn and apply in-demand data science skills, they have developed the Callysto Data Labyrinth, a set of three challenges — beginner, intermediate, and advanced — that will put participants' problem-solving and critical thinking skills to the test.

“There are curricular connections to digital literacy and computational thinking, and by exposing our pre-service teachers to it, they might see a potential way of integrating it into their teaching,” says Dr. Barbara Brown,Phd'13, associate dean of teaching and learning at the Werklund School of Education.

“This provides one possible activity in terms of hosting a data labyrinth that I'm hoping our pre-service teachers could replicate or design something similar in their learning environments. This could certainly be scaled to various levels of learners. The challenges could be made so that they are connected to curriculum in the elementary, junior-high, or senior-high level.”

Werklund and Callysto initially piloted the project last year with a smaller pool of participants. Based on feedback from those sessions, Callysto fine-tuned new challenges that Brown says are more relevant to a post-secondary audience.

For instance, in the beginner “Spotify Labyrinth,” participants will use data science skills to analyze diverse datasets, extracting insights into user preferences, identifying common patterns, and assessing the impact of curated collections like playlists on the music streaming service.

Given its broader appeal, this year’s iteration will be open to a wider swath of the UCalgary community.

“These are what I would call 21st century skills that are multidisciplinary. It's not just something that you would do in education as a teacher," says Brown. “These are the types of skills that we would want all our learners to have.”

The challenge runs asynchronously from Dec. 4 to 8. Earn bragging rights and a digital badge when you complete a level.

Note: If you have trepidation over stepping into the labyrinth, have no fear — you are not expected to go it alone.

“Participants can do the challenges individually if they want but we're really encouraging everyone to work with a partner or a small team to try out the challenges together,” says Brown.

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