Established in January of 2020 by the ASA Development Committee, ASA GivesBack is a group of early-career professionals invested in promoting philanthropy and volunteerism by organizing activities and events that give back to the community. The group’s focus this year has been on encouraging students to engage with statistics and data science via participation in science fairs and friendly data competitions. These activities, organized by the ASA GivesBack Committee, aim to introduce new learners to the world of data and connect them with educational resources and members of the ASA community via mentorship relationships.
From their first meeting, the ASA GivesBack group was passionate about promoting statistics and data science to reach a broader community. They did this by fostering interest among students through learning experiences and engaging them via networking and volunteer events. Initial brainstorming about new ideas for in-person volunteering and community-building were ultimately not able to be implemented due to the unforeseen COVID-19 crisis. What was most interesting and exciting to see was how quickly everyone accepted this new reality and pivoted to develop ideas better suited to remote interaction and engagement.
“Visualizing Your World” was a seven-week summer initiative to provide K–12 students with regular opportunities to get excited about and practice statistics and mathematics via art. This visualization competition was inspired by the Dear Data project, a year-long effort by award-winning information designers Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec to collect, visualize, and share data about their lives. Similarly, the ASA GivesBack group provided participants a prompt at the beginning of each week that encouraged simple data collection, exploration, and analysis. They also provided resources that explained different plots and charts appropriate for different types of data and how to create them.
The prompts for each week were as follows:
Participants collected their own data sets and illustrated their results with a creative visualization of their choosing—either hand drawn or via code (e.g., programming language, visualization tool)—to submit at the end of each week. A winning visualization was selected for each prompt and shared on the group’s social media platforms. There were more than 100 impressions for each of the social posts.
The group saw improvement in data literacy and visualization representation over the course of the summer. Following weeks of hand-drawn visualizations, student Saanvi Jahagirdar made her first foray into Tableau to respond to Week 7’s prompt.
The competition saw immediate interest from parents looking to find a unique activity to engage their children over the summer, and students in grades 1–12 submitted entries. Feedback from students and their parents demonstrate the excitement about data and visualization the group hoped to inspire:
– Saanvi Jahagirdar, 3rd grade ASA gives a great opportunity for kids to learn statistics. I think every kid should follow ASA! The best thing about ASA is that they give prompts and competitions that sharpen your brain a lot! Thank you, ASA, for organizing the “Virtual Science Fair,” “National Poster Competition,” and the “Visualize Your World Competition.” All the prompts and the contests were a great exercise for my mind. It is a fun and educating way for kids to learn. ASA is doing a great job in organizing such great contests! I think ASA should organize more fun contests like the ones I have mentioned above. It is really fun to draw the graphs creatively and also learn some great fun facts!
– Ritika Bhaotankar Jahagirdar, Saanvi’s mom ASA has given several wonderful opportunities in the form of educational initiatives and competitions for the children in all the age groups. I am very thankful to ASA for organizing the “National Poster Contest, “Virtual Science Fair,” “Visualize Your World Competition,” to name a few. It was a great and enriching experience for my daughter to participate in all these contests. The competitions have ignited her interest in learning and applying the concepts of statistics and mathematics not only as a “subject” but also as an “everyday life skill.” My sincere gratitude to ASA for putting in an incredible effort in organizing such activities that go a long way in nurturing the budding brains and the minds that would shape the future of this world!!
Following the success of the Visualizing Your World competition, the ASA GivesBack group is hard at work preparing activities for students and networking opportunities for ASA students and young professionals. With the advent of virtual programming, the group has the unique opportunity to build its ASA GivesBack community because they are not constrained by location. Additionally, the economic climate means many in the statistics community are looking for career guidance and opportunities related to networking and job-searching.
Looking forward, the group plans to kick off a speaker series to connect middle- and high-schoolers with career statisticians to learn more about their day-to-day jobs and responsibilities. The group will also continue collaborating with the ASA Development Committee in the coming year.
To join the ASA GivesBack group, fill out the form.
You can see selected winners for each week on the ASA GivesBack Facebook page.