Burlingame adds new data science class to math curriculum


Arshia Chakravartti

The new data science curriculum, created by Rebecca Zielkowski, will include coding mixed with statistics.

Wali Chaudry, Staff Reporter

Previously, Burlingame offered Integrated Math II and Algebra II for students, who had completed Geometry, to choose from; now, teacher Rebecca Zielkowski will introduce a new math class on data science.

“It’s a completely different way of looking at math,” Zielkowski said. “It’s coding mixed with statistics using the programming bar.”

According to Zielkowski, data science can be more beneficial to students, in comparison to traditional math classes like calculus, because it teaches skills that are more frequently used later in life. 

“The skills in Algebra II are only necessary for precalculus and calculus,” Zielkowski said. “But this class will include skills that you can use in your real job and just about every single other job out there.”

Generally, the topics that will be covered in this class will all be closely related to data and its usage or application to the real world. 

“We’ll be learning how to clean data since there are mistakes in data that has been collected,” Zielkowski said. “We are also going to be learning how to model data using graphs, how to manipulate data, read data and so on.”

Traci Kreppel, an academic counselor and a math teacher, similarly believes that statistics is more applicable to the real world than calculus is.

“Statistics is one of the most important classes that you take for math because most majors and most jobs require some sort of statistics,” Kreppel said. “And I think that the more you know about it, the better you’re going to be.”

Zielkowski encourages students who struggle with regular math classes to take data science and try something new, while also warning about the new skills required in the class. 

“It’s not going to be an easy class because it’s going to be the first time some people are programming, and it will be a little difficult for them,” Zielkowski said. “But if a student wants to learn things that they can use in the real world, then I highly recommend this class.”

For homework, Zielkowski will assign students daily textbook readings, which will all be integrated into Canvas. 

“[Students] will be reading about real world data,” Zielkowski said. “And then, when they come to class, we’ll do a lesson on how to use what they read with the program bar.”

It’s important to note that if a student does decide to take Data Science, the next class on this pathway is preferably Advanced Placement (AP) Statistics or AP Computer Science. If a student is in their sophomore year and has the option to take either Algebra II or data science, Kreppel strongly advises students to take Algebra II given that the data science pathway ends after AP Statistics, and there would be nothing left at Burlingame for a student to take in their senior year.

If a student is interested in taking this class but has already signed up for Algebra II, they are still allowed to change their schedule until the third Friday after the new school year begins.

“As long as there’s room, you can make changes, and this is something that every kid needs to know, because until the third Friday at the beginning of the school year, you can make changes to your schedule,” Kreppel said. “So, if you’re in Algebra II, and you don’t like it, and your friends are telling you to switch because [data science is] such a great class, you can do that provided that there’s room.”

In both Zielkowski and Kreppel’s eyes, it’s safe to say that this class will have a positive turnout in the future.

“I’m excited for this class to come. I know we got a lot of signups, and I am excited that Ms. Zielkowski is teaching it,” Kreppel said. “This is the first new math class that we have had in many years, and I am excited to see the future of the math department.”