2019: A New Year of Space Research and Analyzing Data

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Click to learn more about author Carie Lemack.

A new year is a new opportunity to analyze and apply data. The new year will ring in new opportunities to become more conversant in how we use data in our everyday lives. It will be a renewed and expanded year of education: a year of connection between teachers and students—a year of exploration in and outside the classroom—where data will be a means to measure and an instrument to interpret science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

It will be a year in which we translate theory into practice. Which is to say, we have the resources—we have the kits—to introduce the next generation of workers to the next generation of skills necessary to be competitive in a data-centric economy. That these skills connect students with the wonders of space, that they narrow the perceived space between what students do on Earth and scientists do in the low-Earth orbit of space, that they prove that science is dynamic and scholarship is anything but dry—all of these things are a boon for learning how to use data.

The point of this exercise is, in part, an effort to make data more tactile than theoretical.

For example: The more we expose students to data, in terms of transforming them from passive recipients of information to active participants in the collection and review of data, the more likely we are to have a population of engaged citizens and workers who are eager to use data to pursue their respective interests.

More likely, too, is the prospect of replacing people’s fear of data with an understanding and desire for data.

Our fear is understandable—I understand it—because data, and determining its meaning, can overwhelm the most determined of teachers and the most dedicated of students.

Eliminating that fear begins with a process of experimentation. It begins with experiments that give students more than an academic stake in the outcome of their work. It succeeds with experiments that give students a personal claim in all the work they do, an understanding and a desire to do more.

What, after all, works better to establish this claim than an emotional connection—a resonant chord—that has students divine data by looking to the heavens? What better connection could there be than encouraging students to compare their work with the same experiments done by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS)?

The questions answer themselves, in my opinion, because they speak to how interactive data can be; they speak to how interactive data in fact is.

Emphasizing that fact should be a priority in 2019.

It should be a daily priority, so we can match the proliferation of data with prolific experiments that test the veracity of the data we gather.

It can be all of these things—and more—provided we prepare for this opportunity, provided we seize this opportunity, provided we popularize this opportunity.

Now is the time for us to resolve to meet this opportunity.

Now is the time to make time for data, so 2019 can be a year of increased discovery and a period of superior knowledge for all.

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