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High School Students Discovered the Exciting Possibilities of Statistics at CANSSI-sponsored Events in Three Provinces

By , In , In News

One of CANSSI’s priorities is to introduce opportunities in statistical sciences to members of traditionally underrepresented groups at a time when they are making decisions about their educational futures. So far this year, we have supported three events that give high school students the chance to explore studies and careers in statistical sciences.

Florence Nightingale Day at Simon Fraser University (February 9, 2024)

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At Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Burnaby, British Columbia, CANSSI and the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science welcomed close to 110 participants from local high schools to their second annual Florence Nightingale Day celebration. (Florence Nightingale Day is an international initiative that encourages the participation of women and members of traditionally underrepresented groups in statistical sciences.)

Following opening remarks and an icebreaker game organized by SFU Statistics Lecturer Cherie Ng, the visiting students heard from a panel of university students (Sonia Dosanjh, undergraduate, political science, with a minor in social data analytics; Juliet Fowler, master’s student, computational neuroscience; Valerie Kistrina, undergraduate, computer science, with a minor in statistics; Kathleen Moody, undergraduate, criminology; Hashan Peiris, PhD candidate, actuarial science; and Ryan Smith, undergraduate, psychology) who spoke about their experiences and motivations for studying statistics. SFU Statistics Lecturer Sonja Isberg led the insightful discussion.

Then the visitors moved between stations to tackle statistics-related challenges like the Monty Hall Problem and the Marshmallow in Space game. The activities were designed to embody abstract concepts in tangible, comprehensible ways, and the students responded with enthusiasm.

In the afternoon, Statistics Professor Derek Bingham moderated a discussion on careers in statistics with five young data scientists: Hayley Boyce (Slalom), Kristen Bystrom (Yelp), Kimberly Kroetch (SportsMEDIA Technology Corp.), Ying Li (Statistics Canada), and Lin Zhang (Professor, Statistics and Actuarial Science, Simon Fraser University).

The day ended with a wrap-up by Derek Bingham and a campus tour.

Lead organizer Becky Wei Lin (Lecturer, Statistics and Actuarial Science) was pleased at the response to the event.

“We ended up with way more high schoolers than we planned for that day,” she said. “We totally ran out of pizza and hot chocolate, but it was still a blast.”

The students themselves left with a better understanding of educational and career opportunities in statistical sciences.

“I learned a lot about statistics,” said one participant, “and am definitely thinking about taking it in the future.”

Day of Discovery in Montreal (February 10, 2024)

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In Montreal, CANSSI partnered with the University of Montreal’s Cap campus and EY (Ernst & Young, a global business services company) to present a “Day of Discovery” (February 10, 2024) centred on statistics and data science in conjunction with Black History Month.

Twenty-five high school students spent the day—a Saturday!—at the EY offices in Montreal to participate in games, activities, and discussions that gave them insight into what statistics and data science are and can do.

A distinct aspect of the day was its emphasis on Black culture and history. In addition to participating in a popular workshop on emojis and African history and another workshop presented by the Afromusée de Montréal, the visiting students heard closing remarks by Dorothy William, an activist and historian specializing in Black history.

A wonderful post on the University of Montreal’s news site (in French) tells the story of the event in more detail.

Florence Nightingale Day at the University of Toronto (March 2, 2024)

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See more images from Florence Nightingale Day 2024 on the CANSSI Ontario website.

In Ontario, CANSSI Ontario and the University of Toronto’s Department of Statistical Sciences brought together 30 high school students in grades 10 to 12 for a day of “hands-on activities, games, and panels of professional speakers, followed by networking and lunch” on Friday, March 2, 2024.

It was the third annual Florence Nightingale Day celebration hosted by these partners. Visiting students participated in various activities and then heard about career opportunities in statistics from data scientists including Krupali Bhavsar (Actuarial Science, University of Toronto), Annie Collins (Data Analyst, GivingTuesday), Himanshi Sehgal (Actuarial Analyst, Mercer Canada), Purumidha Sharma (Senior Data Analyst Intern, CPP Investments), and Rachel Yang (Actuarial Analyst, Deloitte Canada).

The aim of the day was “to promote gender diversity in statistics and data science by encouraging, inspiring, and empowering people of genders currently underrepresented in these fields.”

As the story and images on the CANSSI Ontario website confirm, it was also a day of community, connection, and fun.