Whitcomb students learn about ‘Big Data’


Whitcomb students work on a hands-on project. (Photo/submitted)
Whitcomb students work on a hands-on project. (Photo/submitted)

Marlborough – Employees of Dell EMC2 shared their knowledge about “big data” with 1LT Charles W. Whitcomb School eighth-graders at a special event Nov. 29. According to those employees, today, seven billion people and 30 billion devices are connected, and there are 44 zettabytes of data.

Presenters from Dell EMC2, Thiago Nascimento, system engineer, Matt Sherman, operations specialist, and Cheryl Trueman, senior account executive, posed questions to students to get them to think about how “big data” has led to information growth and power.

As Nascimento stressed, “To create new information it is vital to get information.”

Sherman reminded students that “every picture you send out is data, regardless if it is on Snapchat or from your iPhone.”

Students’ eyes widened as the team from Dell EMC2 continued to shed light on security and storage issues and challenges.

Donna Roche, technology instructional specialist at Whitcomb, invited the Dell EMC2 trio to help her students learn about opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers as well as to address security issues and self-awareness around social media. Roche, who has taught in the Marlborough school district for 34 consecutive years, wants to ignite her students’ imaginations to explore the growing field of “big data,” both structured data and unstructured data.

To truly understand the power of data, the students were engaged in a hands-on “big data” activity that involved using LEGO bricks to determine what hypothetical shoppers want. The bricks served to symbolize various clothing items which were sorted to represent store sales.  Initially working individually and then in small groups, the students visualized their data by building colorful LEGO towers. A critical aspect of this activity focused on students analyzing and drawing conclusions from their data.

Based on this fun and engaging hands-on activity, Whitcomb students now have a better and bigger understanding of how collecting and analyzing data can lead to making accurate predictions.

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