Sharing data literacy in the classroom and around the world


When our knowledge was contained in books, learning to read was vital to understanding the world. Today, new information is increasingly generated and communicated in numbers, charts and graphs. That’s why data literacy is emerging as an essential skill for everyone who wants to understand our data-rich world and make it a better place.  

Data literacy is no longer confined to the math or science classroom -- it's all around us and needs to be pulled into everything we do. That's why SAS is passionate about students seeing themselves in data and finding meaning in data. 

We know that the world is bigger than just the students in one classroom -- and they should understand that as well. That’s why SAS is undertaking a month-long initiative that will help show students where they fit in a diverse world – through the lens of data.  

Adding data to International Literacy Day

Just as we celebrate reading literacy on International Literacy Day, Sept. 8, we can also celebrate data literacy. In recognition of this important day, SAS will be running a month-long International Literacy Day initiative to engage you, our dedicated teachers, and your students.  

We're excited to be sending SAS employees from global offices into classrooms all around the world. They'll be appearing in person or virtually to talk about the importance of data literacy and will lead students in hands-on activities using SAS® DataFly, a free, interactive, real-time data visualization tool for the classroom.

SAS® DataFly is an interactive, real-time data visualization tool for the classroom.

Data literacy classroom activities: What to expect

After introducing themselves, their career and why SAS cares so much about data, the employee will engage students with data through quick polls that generate real-time interactive data visualizations. They’ll also share key strategies for collecting high-quality data, such as having representative samples and asking the right questions. The data collected from the classroom activities will be part of a larger event where students get to see their own data in context alongside a broader scale of responses from around the globe – and hopefully inspire important conversations about diversity and inclusion. 

Once all classroom activities have been conducted, everyone involved will have the chance to join our livestream event later in the month where subject matter experts will look at the aggregated data from all participating schools and discuss the topics of sampling bias, the law of large numbers, geographical bias and the importance of a representative sample. Partnering organizations, Arizona State University and the News Literacy Project, will also discuss how these topics relate to what students see on social media and news. 

Teachers: Sign up for a free data literacy demo

We cannot achieve data literacy without you, our dedicated teachers across all grades, disciplines and subjects. Need a little more detail about the initiative? We've broken it down here: 

Who: You and your students! We need you and your class to be ready and willing participants for 45 minutes! Materials are appropriate for students in grades 3-9 (ages 8-16). 

screenshots of visualizations from the app, SAS DataFly
Screenshots and visualizations from the app, SAS DataFly.

What: An International Literacy Day initiative that brings foundational data literacy skills into the classroom through employee outreach. Over the course of two weeks in September, SAS employees will partner with teachers to run a 45-minute SAS® DataFly activity, engaging students with real-time, interactive data visualizations. (Students will need access to devices or a shared device – laptop, phone or tablet are all fine.) As students respond to specific poll questions, they'll instantly see their responses in a data chart. On Sept. 28 students can join the global classroom we’ll create via livestream and connect with peers from around the world. 


  • Sept. 8 – International Literacy Day!  
  • Sept. 9-24 – A SAS employee conducts one 45-minute in-person or virtual SAS DataFly activity with your class during this time.  
  • Sept. 28 – Join a 30-minute livestream event with SAS, Arizona State University and the News Literacy Project to dive into the results and understand a broader message/application of data. This event will be recorded.  

Where: In your classroom for 45 minutes during the weeks of Sept. 9-24 and then via a livestream on Sept 28. 

Why: The primary goal is for students to learn what data looks like in individual classrooms and how it changes when the data includes voices from cultures and locations around the world. This will help foster global awareness by showing that data points represent real people, and will also encourage students to: 

  • Learn about the importance of data. 
  • Build foundational data literacy skills. 
  • Interpret and understand data visualization. 
  • Think critically about how data is created. 

How: If you haven’t already been contacted by SAS to participate and you’re interested in joining in on our initiative, please contact us here.

Students will need access to devices or a shared device (laptops, phones and tablets are all fine). All other materials will be provided. Once you’re partnered with a SAS employee, they’ll reach out to you to coordinate an in-person or virtual presentation/SAS DataFly activity between Sept. 9 and Sept. 24. On Sept. 28 you’ll join the culminating event via livestream or view the recording with your students.  

Please note: We will be updating this blog post with details as they are solidified. Please refer back to this blog post for updated details about the event!


About Author

Lee Ellen Harmer

Outreach and Collaborations Manager

Lee Ellen Harmer is a member of the Social Innovation Division at SAS, a team committed to finding innovative ways to apply SAS® technology to the world's most pressing needs. While focused heavily on global sustainability issues, the Social Innovation team also works to support the next generation of innovators, introducing young learners to data, how it can be used to better understand global issues, and how to turn those insights into action in their own communities. Lee Ellen's role encompasses marketing, communications, and partnerships to help promote the adoption of data literacy, coding, and AI for K12. SAS believes in promoting learning for all, with the goal of building a global community of innovators. Lee Ellen has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business with a marketing concentration from Wake Forest University (Winston Salem, NC).

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