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Data science for kids, IEEE-Swinburne 2-day challenge brings out competitive spirit of local students

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Kuching (June 21, 2018) – As part of an effort to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in Sarawak, the IEEE Sarawak Subsection in collaboration with the School of ICT, Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus organized The Data Science Challenge for primary school students was held on 20 – 21 June 2018 in Swinburne Sarawak. According to Dr Lau Bee Theng, chair of IEEE Sarawak, this STEM event is well aligned with IEEE (USA)’s initiative in advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. This event is believed to be the first of its kind in Malaysia where the challenge attempted to introduce data science concepts to children of 10 to 12 years old.

Professor John Wilson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and CEO of Swinburne Sarawak was invited to give the opening speech to nearly 100 participants ranging from primary four to primary six from 14 schools across Kuching district.

We aim to cultivate interest in data science among students from a young age to fill the job demand from various industries especially financial institutions for the next 5 to 15 years”, said the IEEE Sarawak’s organising chair, Mr. Ong Chin Ann. “Data are created at an exponential rate every day. Facebook alone has over two billion active users worldwide. They (we) produce 293,000 new status updates, 510,000 comments and about 200,000 photos every minute. With the vast amount of data, we could explore new knowledge, discover hidden patterns or sentiment and make our prediction from all these data if we equipped ourselves with data science skill”, he said, citing an article from Forbes.

Throughout this event, participants learned and experienced the process of solving real-world problems or answering questions by using a data science approach. They were introduced to the purpose of data collection and data preparation in the context of Science, learned and used contemporary software and Technology such as Microsoft Excel to store and manage data, built and Engineered predictive models and performed data analysis using fundamental Mathematics and statistical concepts. With the knowledge and skills they learned from this event, they were further challenged to solve real-world problems at different levels. Participants were given simple questions to consider such as whether the colours of M&M chocolates in every packet were evenly distributed using game and data handling, to complex problems like predicting the probability of passenger survival based on the case study of Titanic.

At the end of the event, all participants received a certificate of participation awarded by IEEE Sarawak Subsection and Swinburne Sarawak Campus. The team consisting of Bryan Jong from SJK Chung Hua Stapok,  Chai En Xxin, Jivin Voon both from SJK Chung Hua No. 4, Chin Hau Sung and Richard Goh, both from SJK Chung Hua Batu 4 ½, was crowned as the champion. They demonstrated the best teamwork spirit and demonstrated the best understanding of data science concepts when developing models to predict the survival of passengers in the sinking of Titanic. They were awarded a hamper and book vouchers worth RM250.

The 1st runner-up prize was won by Aaron Wee from Lodge Primary School, Janice O from SJK Chung Hua Stapok, and the trio from SJK Chung Hua Batu 4 ½ i.e. Bryan Bong, Dayan Lai, and Ho Ming Hung. They went home with a hamper and book vouchers worth RM150. Finally, the 2nd runner-up prize was won by Jayden Ho from Lodge Primary School, Jackie Liew and Megan Lim both from SJK Chung Hua No. 2 as well as Lydia Lee and Roldan Phang from SJK Chung Hua No. 4, who received a hamper and book vouchers worth of RM100.

The written feedback indicated that 90% of the participants claimed the event was fun, enjoyable and they wish to join any similar events in future. Dayquan Adrian Lee from SJKC Chung Hua Batu 4 ½ commented that he learn a lot about data science and make many new friends from this event, “I think I have lots of fun in this event and I wish to join Data Science Challenge again”.

Source: New Sarawak Tribune – Saturday 23 June 2018

Photo Albums:
Day 1
Day 2


Ong Chin Ann
Executive Committee Member (Communication & Promotion), IEEE Sarawak Subsection 2019-2020, 2020-2021, 2021-2022, 2023-2024 IEEE Senior Member