Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The 2015 BES Data Jam: A Contest of Science, Creativity, and Communication

The idea of data jamming, exploring openly available data in a collaborative way, sounds a lot like jazz.  A data jam is an event that brings people together to explore data that intrigue them, either for some practical or basic scientific reason.  Because problem solving and new analyses are stimulated by an open-ended, creative approach, the idea of improvising together on a theme is an appropriate one.

One of the most important ways to work with data and to share its importance is working toward some “story” that the data tell.  This is also parallel with jazz in that a jam explores some rhythmic and thematic foundation, and spins out a musical story based on those core elements.

Participants and judges at the 2014 BES Data Jam.
Of course, a story should be shared, for the delight of an audience or for the lesson it imparts to life as it is lived. 

So put all these elements together and you have a sense of the BES Data Jam to be held this Spring.  Students – either individuals or teams -- are challenged to use BES data and to present them in engaging, novel ways. 

Each Data Jam participant or team will produce a poster summarizing the project and its findings. But the presentation will also include some other, more artistic display – such as a video, song, photograph(s), drawings, poem, or any creative product that embodies something about the insights from the data analysis.  The winning projects will be judged by scientists and communicators for scientific soundness and creativity of the presentation.  The idea is to do things that engage the creativity and collaborative spirit of the student researchers and teams, but which also engage people beyond the sciences.

The details about registering for and participating in the Data Jam are here  Students and their teachers should have a look at the materials describing the Data Jam and get their scientific and artistic creative juices flowing.  

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