Data Science Class Dialogues with Software Developer

Upper School Data Science students had the unique opportunity to connect with the creator of the program they use in class. Santiago Basulto is the co-founder of DataWars, a platform that offers project-based learning tools to teach practical skills in data science. 

Upper School Computer Science teacher Brianna Ifft connected with Basulto when she first considered using the platform for her class. From there, the two continued to have conversations, which led to his appearance in the class. 

Basulto described his background in programming and his work in the world of start-ups. After gaining some experience, and a couple of failures, Basulto and his team adjusted their approach: rather than focusing on the code of what they were building, they instead considered the user experience. Their hard work turned into the success that DataWars is today. 

After fielding some questions about his work, Basulto turned the conversation around to have the students offer feedback on their experience with the platform. DataWars is currently developing more of the platform’s educational component, and Ifft’s class is serving as a test user group. 

Each student offered their thoughts on areas of possible improvement, while Basulto took notes for making tweaks later. By relying on their personal experiences, students offered their voices to impact change for students using the platform in the future.

At the end of the conversation, Basulto was impressed by the students and their work. He reiterated the importance of thinking with a data science mindset and said, “At the end of the day, you can always dig, dig, dig and find the answer for something that is not just the universal truth. You can challenge what’s being told.” 
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.