New Free eBook For Kids Is Designed To Explain Data Science And Generate Interest

Faced with questions from friends and family about his work, Ryan Kelly of Domino Data Lab found a way to explain his work and generate excitement around data science as a potential career.

Image: Domino Data Lab

Too often, Ryan Kelly, a marketing manager surrounded by data scientists at Domino Data Lab, struggles to explain what he does for a living. It became a bigger problem for Kelly when he was unable to describe his career to family and friends. He was inspired by the best way to clearly explain what he did and generate the enthusiasm he felt for it: he wrote the ebook “Florence the Data Scientist and Her Magical Bookmobile”.

Now, just in time for Math Awareness Month, the book is officially available for free and will hopefully spark young readers’ enthusiasm for careers in data science. Its April 6 launch also features a home activity sheet and, for educators, a “Daily Do” in-class lesson plan created by the National Science Teaching Association. Kindergarten to Grade 5 learners who complete and submit the activity sheet will be entered into a raffle to win a $ 5,000 contribution to the college fund and a new Chromebook computer.

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Kelly wrote the book, but also sought advice from her colleague at Domino Data Lab. “Florence the Data Scientist and Her Magical Bookmobile” centers on Beatrice, a girl who loves reading, science, dragons and swings. When a mysterious bookmobile rolls down her street, Béatrice is intrigued to find her driver Florence knows exactly which books will delight every child in the neighborhood. But how? Beatrice spends the day recording and analyzing each of her friends’ responses to Florence’s questions, discovering – and falling in love – the magical predictive power of data science.

It’s important to develop an early interest in STEM, Kelly said. “Waiting is not an option. Research has shown that if you delay a child’s exposure to STEM until high school or even college, sticking to it is at a great disadvantage. seem “forced” and foreign. On the other hand, young children are incredibly confident, eager to learn, and have tons of energy. They are up for challenges. And research tells us that when you leave your child behind. take control of their own learning initiatives, they will reap the rewards and confidence in core critical thinking skills over the long term. ”

Kelly’s daughter shares a name with the main character in the book, but even though Bea is still a toddler, she “likes to understand how things work,” Kelly said. “She’ll take the locks, latches, nuts and bolts apart and put them back together. You can introduce STEM concepts to kids under one year old, and ‘engineering’ type activities seem like a great place to start.”

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He looked, but “there are hardly any children’s books on data science, especially for early readers. We have a weeklong event at the Domino Data Lab, and I got the idea to write the world’s very first digital children’s e-book on data science during what we call a “hack-a-thon”. », A weeklong event where employees divide into dynamic and agile teams and brainstorm big ideas to solve tough problems. It was last August. “

“We took the project from concept to launch in seven months, what everyone in the children’s book industry told me would be next to impossible. ‘normal speed. “

Kelly had no previous experience, so he consulted published professionals and talked to data scientists who were also parents. “Of course, I tested the story on Bea and my mom, who is an elementary school teacher,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we were helping education professionals and parents support kids who want to learn more about data science. “

He found that “parents really have a hard time getting their kids involved in STEM. Many are anxious about this and not confident in their understanding of the concepts themselves. “

“This book is by no means a quick fix,” he said. “But I wrote it because I had such a hard time describing what a data scientist was to my friends and family when I started working at Domino. And I immediately felt the pain. that other parents and data scientists must endure. ” Kelly said it was essential that the book center on a young girl and a strong woman. “Beatrice discovers data science in everyday life when Florence comes to her street. And introducing children to STEM through characters they identify with, in real-world scenarios outside of the home and the classroom is a powerful and easy way for parents to begin to understand them. interested in the topics. “

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Kelly said he was most surprised at “how difficult it was to rhyme the story. The book is in a” rhyming pattern “which adds to its whimsical nature. I can’t compete with all of the Thidwicks, Loraxes, Happy Hunches, Red Fish, Blue Fish and Green Fish, but the rhymes were worth it. “

Domino Data Lab co-founder and CEO Nick Elprin added, “Data science is now one of the most in-demand professions with the potential to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems. But there is a huge shortage of data scientists. I shared this book with my own young children, and it immediately captured their imaginations. By exposing children to this area early on, we can help ensure that we are able to meet the challenges of the future head-on. “

This article was updated on April 7, 2021 to describe the work of Ryan Kelly.

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