Data4All - High School Bridge Program:

Inspiring & Preparing High School Students from Chicago’s South Side to Pursue Careers in Data Science

The Data Science Institute at the University of Chicago has partnered with two college readiness programs in the Office of Civic Engagement, The Collegiate Scholars Program (CSP) and the Office of Special Programs (OSP) as well as with Argonne National Laboratory and the Center for Spatial Data Science to collaborate on the Data4All High School Bridge Program.

In most Chicago Public High Schools (CPS), students’ exposure to computer science is limited to one computer science survey course that lacks coverage of advanced topics such as artificial intelligence, data science, or application of computer science to societal issues. There is an evident need and a unique opportunity to provide a program for high schoolers that bridges the gap between the high-level skills and critical, transferrable data science and programming skills that have the potential to transform a students’ potential future trajectories. To address this need, the Data Science Institute, Argonne National Laboratory, the Center for Spatial Data Science, and the Office of Civic Engagement have developed the Data4All High School Bridge Program. Building off the success of a virtual pilot workshop in 2021, we will run four workshops from 2022-2024 on the UChicago campus. In the Data4All program, high school fellows engage in data science research through analyzing scientific case studies that are derived from the real world and use standard, professional-grade data science tools and techniques. Students will be mentored by UChicago undergraduate mentors as well as staff from Argonne’s Education Programs and Outreach division. Throughout the workshop, students develop coding and other critical skills that help them derive insights from datasets, and empower them to think critically and expansively about how data science interacts with and can have impact on the world around them. Furthermore, beyond just equipping students with a skills baseline, the program provides students with access to mentorship, surrounds them with a cohort of their peers, and engages them in activities that increase their awareness of potential career paths in data science. By anchoring the program in a welcoming and inclusive cohort community, we aim to build students’ confidence and help shape their identities as young researchers. This not only improves their experience in the program, but prepares them for navigating critical inflection points in their future career paths.