New math class available next year

Explorations in Data Science to provide more course options

With students submitting their course requests for the 2022-2023 school year, Explorations in Data Science has been added to the math curriculum. The class will be available to grades 10-12 with a prerequisite of a “C” or higher in Geometry. 

According to the math courses guide, students will explore “free tools such as Google Sheets, Python, Data Commons and Tableau.” Pre-existing skills in math, science and technology will be utilized in a data-oriented way, focusing on the real-world applications of the subject. 

In addition, the course’s description promises “project-based units, through which [students] will develop their understanding of data analysis, sampling, correlation/causation, bias and uncertainty, probability, modeling with data, making and evaluating data-based arguments, the power of data in society and more!”

Explorations in Data Science can be taken alongside any math course once Geometry is completed. Worth 10 math credits, students may also opt to take the class instead of Algebra II. They would then go on to Finite Math or Statistics and then from there, AP Statistics.

“After Geometry, [students] have a lot of options,” Oak Park High School Counselor Andrea Lanter said. “Most universities want to see four years of mathematics and we expect that Data Science will be UC/CSU approved.”

Statistics teacher Matt Micek is looking forward to teaching Explorations in Data Science and developing the new class for OPHS.

“Many Universities are now offering majors involving Data Science and Analytics,” Micek said. “What makes me most excited about this class is it will help more students experience a branch of Mathematics that is relevant, alive and valuable to students’ futures.”

There are many factors in taking Explorations in Data Science instead of Algebra II as this choice has its advantages and disadvantages for students.

“I think one advantage of taking Data Science in place of Algebra II is largely for senior students who have struggled in Mathematics. They have convinced themselves they cannot do math,” Micek said.

Though the class is a way to meet the three years of math required to graduate, taking this course pathway can have its restrictions.

“Some students may find that they were anxious about Algebra 2, but actually could have enjoyed success in it!” Micek said. “By dodging Algebra 2, they may limit their future options for their university studies.”                                                                                                                                                                                         

This course is an opportunity for students to realize the real-world applications of data science. The class content is based upon the idea that data can be utilized beyond STEM-focused careers.

“I hope students will see that they can have success in noting patterns, making sense of the deluge of data in our modern society and feeling that they can have a future in Mathematics if they should so choose,” Micek said.