How is COVID Affecting Youth in Dallas? The City Needs Your Help to Answer

The City of Dallas is looking for students from 6th-12th grade and local data professionals to participate in a new challenge that uses real virus data from Dallas County. The deadline to apply as a participant, judge, or mentor is Aug. 31.

In partnership with Dallas County, PCCI, UT Dallas, Dallas ISD, and Codeup, the City of Dallas is launching a student data challenge posed on a key question: “How is COVID affecting youth in Dallas?”

The COVID-19 Data Challenge will have participants from 6th-12th grade work on a project using real virus data from Dallas County cases. Students chosen will have the opportunity to learn from mentors throughout the process and win prizes along the way. The challenge will run from Sept. 3 to Sept. 21, with winners announced Oct. 1.

Although young people are at a lower health risk from COVID-19, their school and home lives have been drastically affected. They also make up a large majority of cases—and can still spread it to friends, neighbors, and family members.

The City of Dallas is using the challenge as a way to show students that, although it may not seem like it, they are still at a large risk from the pandemic. Upon joining the challenge, students will analyze the data provided to learn trends among cases.

They are then tasked with showcasing their findings in a “creative way that helps others learn what’s happening with COVID-19.”

“In addition to learning about how COVID is affecting their community, students will be able to flex their math, data and coding skills on a real life city challenge,” Laila Alequresh, the City’s chief innovation officer, told Dallas Innovates. “Almost 3,000 young people under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with COVID since July 1. [This is] especially critical as we move into the back to school season.”

According to the City, participants will be mentored by data professionals from around the area to develop their projects. Prizes—they have not yet been specified—will be handed out by a panel of judges.

The City of Dallas put out a call-to-action for professionals in a data-related field or position to apply to be a judge or mentor. Mentors must be available for around 3-4 hours between Sept. 3 and Sept. 21, and judges for the same amount of time from Sept. 22 to Sept. 29.

Alequresh points to benefits for applying to be a mentor or a judge. Mentors are able to offer data expertise to students with an interest in coding and analysis and judges will review student submissions and see students’ capacity for data analysis, she says.

“Investing in students to champion data skills can help foster a passion for STEM that can last a lifetime,” the City said. It is also a way for Dallas to gather insight on a specific, targeted age range.

“Submissions are designed to have recommendations directly from young people since that is the population being impacted,” Alequresh says. “This can help with more effective messaging and targeting for this age group.”

The deadline to join the challenge is Aug. 31. Students, judges, and mentors can apply and learn more here.

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