Changing the world with Data: An outreach event

[This article was first published on The Jumping Rivers Blog, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers]. (You can report issue about the content on this page here)
Want to share your content on R-bloggers? click here if you have a blog, or here if you don't.

Earlier this year, two data scientists from Jumping Rivers ran an outreach activity for 14-19 year olds across the UK, in collaboration with the youth charity Speakers for Schools.

The three hour workshop focussed on how to create visualisations that are both visually appealing and useful to the viewer. We demonstrated with a few examples of some visualisations that we created from some questions we asked on sign up (their favourite fast food restaurants and snacks) and showed them some examples of visualisations that challenged the view of data visualisation all being bar charts and scatter plots – think football pundit analysis and tube maps!

Bar chart of sweet vs savoury snacks

The session culminated with us turning the tables – we became the clients, specifically, two biologists, recently returned from their studies of some penguin species in Antarctica! We asked them to design a dashboard to help us explore all of the data we had collected.

Whether you want to start from scratch, or improve your skills, Jumping Rivers has a training course for you.

Those of you familiar with the R programming language will probably recognise the reasoning for this particular leap in professions. The {palmerpenguins} package, originally published in 2020 by Allison Marie Horst and Alison Presmanes Hill and Kristen B. Gorman is an excellent resource for teaching data exploration and visualisation! And it even comes with some adorable artwork that you can download to help.

Cartoon of three types of penguin, Chinstrap, Gentoo and Adelie
Artwork by @allison_horst

We developed a Shiny app that could be accessed by attendees via their browsers, which allowed them to create their own visualisations of the penguin data. With options to change the size, shape and colour of the points based on the data, the ability to play around with the axes, colour palettes and themes, as well as to add customised labels and choose to split by year, or add a line of fit, there was a lot to keep you busy!

We wanted to make sure we had enough options in to make it fully customisable, while also giving attendees the opportunity to make something truly awful, if they wanted, to demonstrate some dos and don’ts of data visualisation.

Screenshot of Shiny App that gives plotting options for the penguins data to build a visualisation.

While we can’t share the creations here, we were very impressed with the creativeness that we saw throughout the whole workshop. The collaborative whiteboards were well used for introductions via the medium of sketched visualisations!

We hope that the attendees of this workshop enjoyed themselves as much as we did! If you’re interested in learning how to make great visualisations, or how to create Shiny apps, take a look at our course page. We offer courses on visualisation in R and Python, as well as a variety of courses on Shiny, from an introduction for Shiny beginners, to more advanced concepts and web accessibility.

For updates and revisions to this article, see the original post

To leave a comment for the author, please follow the link and comment on their blog: The Jumping Rivers Blog. offers daily e-mail updates about R news and tutorials about learning R and many other topics. Click here if you're looking to post or find an R/data-science job.
Want to share your content on R-bloggers? click here if you have a blog, or here if you don't.

Never miss an update!
Subscribe to R-bloggers to receive
e-mails with the latest R posts.
(You will not see this message again.)

Click here to close (This popup will not appear again)