Project-Based Learning + Data with #SummerSTEM


At the top of the LinkedIn's 25 hottest skills that got people hired in 2014, you'll find Statistical Analysis and Data Mining. Analytics play an increasingly large role in every industry, driving decisions, change, and innovation. The amount of data collected each year continues to grow as we surround (and adorn) ourselves with more devices and sensors--including the ones on your wrist or in your pocket. This breakaway growth has changed the job landscape and our economic priorities: we need talented people trained to pursue rewarding careers analyzing an increasingly large and complex volume of data.


How do you prepare for this kind of career? Here's one of the best ways to learn statistics: explore subjects that interest you. If you like sports, apply stats to the vast amounts of player and game data. If you want to reduce suffering or promote opportunity, focus on health, education, or employment data. Both Major League Baseball and Doctors without Borders need help analyzing data.

Of course, some students will always shout, "I'll never use that." Even the most earnest teacher struggles to find examples, construct lectures, or give homework problems that all students find interesting.

That's where PBL (Problem- and Project-Based Learning) comes in. PBL offers a model that drives student engagement and improves learning. It also places students in real-world contexts that prepare them for college and careers.

The Buck Institute for Education is a leader in preparing teachers to deliver Project-Based Learning and has been leading the community to develop a Gold Standard for PBL. Watch below as John Mergendoller introduces the Gold Standard.


This summer a group of teachers from Wake County Public Schools is getting hands-on experience at area businesses as part of Wake Ed Partnership's SummerSTEM program. Teachers will be combining their business experiences with their professional development training in PBL to enrich student learning in the coming year.

When the teachers arrived at SAS, they were immersed in a culture of data. Attendees learned the importance of analytics in every field and heard from professionals about the backgrounds and skills needed to work at SAS. Teachers then explored the Energy and Sustainability Industry, learning how SAS uses data to manage sustainability efforts at our Cary headquarters. Our most recent building projects have all sought and obtained LEED certification. Collecting and analyzing data plays a critical part in achieving sustainability.


Teachers launched into a crash course with SAS® University Edition, free for teaching and learning SAS skills (get it here). The course involved using data collected at SAS as part of our sustainability efforts. With their new-found love of (and admiration for) SAS software, teachers worked to design PBL lessons using the sustainability data, a dataset of their own, or Data Depot (1 of 1,250+ free resources at



The attendees spent the remainder of the afternoon working in teams with SAS professionals to incorporate data into PBL experiences.


Quick Links:

Bob's talk:

Tim's talk:

Danny's talk:

(software) SAS University Edition

(data) SAS Curriculum Pathways Data Depot

(training) 200+ training videos

(community) SAS Analytics U community


About Author

Scott McQuiggan

Scott McQuiggan leads SAS® Curriculum Pathways®, an interdisciplinary team focused on the development of no-cost educational software in the core disciplines at SAS. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from North Carolina State University in 2009, where his research focused on affective reasoning in intelligent game-based learning environments. His research has been published in more than 30 journal articles and refereed conference proceedings, and been recognized through several best paper nominations including Best Student Paper Award at the International Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction.

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