Monday, June 15, 2015

Doing something for the first time in the world and the apprehensions! - Mentor experience by Abhishek

The day I came to know about Data Science Camp organised by Aspiring Minds, I was interested to see how Data Science could be taught to these kids. When I came to know about things which are to be taught to students, I was apprehensive about the success of this event because of three major reasons:
  1. I was not sure if parents would take this much of pain to drop their kids to a camp which was not related to any of the academic activity of their ward
  2. I was not sure if a kid of standard 5th or 6th  would be interested in data science
  3. If students were aware about excel, formulae and graphs which were supposed to be used?
Thanks to our mentor Varun Aggarwal for instilling confidence in all of us that we will certainly put up a great show. Moreover, he also mentioned the pros and cons of doing anything which were never tried before.  Saturday, 13th June 2015, it was 10:20, three kids arrived, A, B and C (keeping them anonymous). Two of them were from 8th standard and ‘C’ was in 5th grade.
Me: What do you people expect from this Data Science camp?

Two of them: We will learn something about Data Science and we will do something with data.
‘A’: ‘These days, companies have lot of data about customers and they want to find some pattern using algorithm which they can use to scale up their business.’  (No exaggeration)
I was glad to hear this from a student of 8th standard kid and was confident enough to make this a successful camp. I and Parth conducted an ice breaking session for kids. It started with introducing kids to each other by asking them to distribute I- cards to each other. We divided students into two groups, 5th, 6th and 7th on one side and others on the other side (just to have a balanced team). The pairs were made by asking them to randomly pick a card which had either a name of a famous Indian Scientist or his invention and then they had to pair up with their counter-part. It was good to know that these kids were digitally advanced than my expectation as they were aware about key words to be searched and things like Wikipedia and used these tools to find their group member.
After the groups were formed, every kid got a set of 48 faces with names (old and new), facial expressions (sad and happy), activities performed (outdoor and indoor). The kids had to rate 5 if they will make the person a friend, 1 if not and could choose other numbers in between. All the 7 groups had to complete this exercise with one mentor each. I chose not to be mentor because I wanted to roam around, observe faces, read their minds and guess what they could be thinking out of this experiment. Three major things which could see clearly:
  1. Students of class 8th and 9th were more serious while assigning numbers to faces
  2. Few of the kids from class 5th and 6th often moved to previous page to see the number they already assigned (few of changed them :p)
  3. Facial expression and activity was the dominant feature which they focussed upon as no one complained about name, I thought it went unnoticed  
I helped few of the groups in making bar graphs and telling them meanings of each bar. It was interesting and fun to teach the concept of percentage to class 5th kids as they heard it only with the marks they obtained. :)
The students were very excited about the bar graphs and their interpretation. I was very happy to take home two things from this data science camp: first, primary education has certainly evolved particularly in metro cities and second there are ways to impart knowledge in a better way than conventional school teaching. This was certainly the best way I could have spent my weekend. Thanks to Aspiring Minds for giving me this wonderful opportunity to be a part of this Data Science Camp.
Abhishek Singh

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