With the emergence of big data and the Open Data Movement, and the wide availability to the public of large databases, Data Literacy is a necessary learning goal for students. Understanding the data process in its entirety is now a vital skillset required across industry, government, and scientific disciplines. The newest ships in the U.S. Academic Research Fleet, the Regional Class Research Vessels (RCRVs), are being built with the aim to support data literacy through a forthcoming real-time data portal that is intended to foster outreach and engagement. Research for understanding how the new RCRVs may support data literacy occurred in two phases. The first phase research investigated the transfer of real-time oceanographic data from researcher to K-12 classrooms and “The Data Stream” was identified. The second phase research, explained here, expanded upon the first phase through interviewing experts in the field of data literacy and shipboard education. In addition, specialists in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the geosciences were interviewed. The objective was to determine promising practices in data literacy education and shipboard outreach that are also culturally responsive.
The expert interviews illuminated numerous educational strategies which may facilitate building a student’s data literacy. One prominent strategy is student-driven community action research, in which students collect and evaluate data to create local change. An eight-week afterschool program, Mar Adentro, was developed where students could examine the presence of microplastics in their local watershed. The pilot program was tested with seven students from Oregon’s Latina/o community. Students ultimately emerged from the program with a deeper understanding of the data process. The program also demonstrated the value of providing second-language students informal learning spaces where they can comfortably utilize linguistic capital and engage with one another in their first language.