Something for the kids, big kids and big data kids

Toni Sekinah, research analyst and features editor, DataIQ

What's on during the summer holidays to entertain kids of all ages with an interest in data? The Science Museum in London has something. 

My eight-year-old neighbour is enjoying her six-week summer holiday; she’s just been to the Science Museum. When she told me this, I felt a tiny pang of jealousy. I want to go to the Science Museum. I remember The Launch Pad being the most exciting place on Earth when I was a child.

Human DNA helixSo, I looked on the Science Museum website to plan my next visit. Our Lives in Data looks like it is worth a couple of hours. It is an exhibition that explores the role of big data in our lives and the way it is being used to transform the world around us, as well as the diverse ways our data is being collected and analysed.

The video trailer for the exhibit helpfully informs us of the following facts; 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated every day and 90% of all available human data has been recorded in the last two years. It looks at toys that understand children’s personalities as they play, smart transport and genomic technology that is helping to reveal the causes of rare diseases.

When it opened last summer, exhibition developer, Sheldon Paquin said: “Big data is still new but it is already revolutionising the world around us. We hope all visitors to Our Lives in Data will get a sense of just how much of our data is captured and processed every day and consider the huge benefits as well as the privacy concerns this can create.”

Visitors can see a real server from a real data centre, shipped over from Lulea, courtesy of Facebook. The server is the size of an industrial fridge and weighs 800kg or 126 stone - the same weight as two Space tunnel, Science Museumgrand pianos. Our Lives in Data is also home to a 3D printed model of Bond Street Tube station, thanks to Transport for London. Plus, there is an intelligent mirror that uses facial recognition software to guess people’s age, gender and emotions.

On top of that, on display are products that help people to protect their data including a cryptophone which encrypts telephone calls and paint that blocks wi-fi signals. The curators also encourage visitors to join the debate around data ownership and data protection as they can compare their views through an interactive quiz.

The exhibition is free and is suitable for adults and children aged eight and above. It is on at the Science Museum until 24th September 2017. That’s my next Saturday sorted.

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