Summer has arrived and young people all over the country are enjoying their time spent in summer camps. And while many camps involve athletics or camping out, others are meant to keep kids’ brains moving. Today’s camps are anything but boring. Science Technology Engineering, Agriculture and Math (STEAM) camps can be exciting.
In an era increasingly defined by the challenge of using an unprecedented flow of information to solve problems and govern better, USDA provides national leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition and related issues. To support USDA’s mission, the GovLab Academy designed and executed a dual pilot of a two-week open data summer program, in July 2015, for Washington, DC-area teenagers. The camp’s goal was to help the leaders of tomorrow learn more about data, the tools of data science, and the ways they might be leveraged to improve innovation and security in the nation’s food supply. The camp also provided an opportunity for USDA employees to support the goal of strengthening STEAM education in this country by piloting an initiative that can be scaled and replicated across agencies and across levels of government.
This special camp is the first of its kind in the United States specifically focused on Open Data and Agriculture. The participants delivered presentations based on the following data sets:
1) Food Consumption and Nutrient Intakes
2) Price Spreads from Farm to Consumer
3) Food Environment Atlas
4) US Bioenergy Statistics
5) Major Land Uses
6) Super Tracker and Other Tools
Field trips to the Agricultural Research Center and the Maryland Natural Resources Conservation Center provided the participants an opportunity to see work in every facet of agriculture from lab to farm to their dining room table. Through this program, USDA hopes to inspire future data scientists, data analysts and maybe some future farmers.