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More resources for schools about big data and computing

Simulation of airfllow around the tower at Daresbury Laboratory
(Credit: STFC)

What is big data and computing?

Computing is becoming more and more important to our society and our economy – traffic control, the internet, communications, commerce, they all rely on computing. Big data is, as the name suggests, extremely large sets of information that can be analysed, visualised and presented in different ways to learn more about ourselves and the world around us. STFC has a wealth of fascinating stories about the different uses of computing, and the amazing uses we’re putting big data to – from analysing the structure of diseases, to studying the earliest structures in our universe, to building safer cars using computer simulations and models.


Following we have a selection of interesting and interactive resources such as websites, films, animations, apps, publications and guides. These can be used in classroom or as background information for yourself.


A selection of videos to support your teaching of big data and computing.

NASA: A year in the life of Earths' CO2

NASA uses supercomputers to model how carbon dioxide travels within our atmosphere, showing one year’s worth of data in just a few minutes.

Code Stars:

(CERN) - Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and will.i.am explaining why coding and computing is important.

More videos

The 2008 RI Christmas lectures featured Professor Chris Bishop traces the development of computer science, explaining what jelly fish ice cream has to do with programming.


There are free printed resources available to order directly online at the STFC publications order form.

Classroom activities

Soon we’ll have free downloadable computing resources for schools at both primary and secondary level.

Opportunities for students

Our Scientific Computing Department, based at Daresbury Laboratory (DL) in Cheshire and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire, offers work experience placements for students in Years 10 – 13. This is a great opportunity to find out what it’s like working with supercomputers on some of the world’s most exciting projects. At RAL, all work experience students have the opportunity to take part in a three-day coding workshop, where we introduce you to the basics of programming in the computer language python.

Computing activities for schools (both primary and secondary) are run at our National Labs throughout the year – you can find out more on our events pages.

The RI are developing a new network of Computer Science Masterclasses. Young Rewired State (YRS) is a network of young coders who come together to create new websites, apps and code using open data sources. There are YRS centres all over the country, including at STFC’s National Labs, Codeclub.org coordinates a network of computing clubs around the UK. They can help you find volunteers to run a club, find resources to start a club in school or to find the nearest existing club to your location.

CPD Opportunities

There are various organisations providing training opportunities across the UK relating to teaching Big Data and Computing at different levels.

The Computing at School is a fantastic resource for teaching computing, with details of local and national CPD and networking sessions.

The National Science Learning Centre hosts and runs CPDs and other teacher events in computing.

How big data and computing covers the national curriculum: Computing has become increasingly important in the school curriculum across the UK, covering basic programming skills and computational thinking. The opportunities, resources and stories here are ways to bring the computing curriculum alive, showing students the variety of different opportunities their computing skills will open up.

CPD events and dates

There are a wealth of training events that are running about computing, at different levels and for different age groups. The Computing at School Events page is a useful resource to find events, networks and support near you.

Contacts and speakers for big data and computing

  • For more information contact Sophy Palmer, Public Engagement Manager, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
  • STEM Ambassadors at STEMNET use their enthusiasm and commitment to encourage young people to enjoy STEM subjects. They are available to give talks to schools or other groups.

Even more resources for schools

The Computing at School network has a wealth of resources for teachers and students studying computing http://community.computingatschool.org.uk/resources

STEM e-Library link http://www.nationalstemcentre.org.uk/elibrary/

Teaching London Computing - http://teachinglondoncomputing.org/

Return back to our main page on research about big data and computing, and how STFC provides the computing and data storage needed by academics and industry, as well as pushing the boundaries of our knowledge by developing new software and coding.

Go back to explore our science and technology in all its diverse fields: Large facilities - from giant telescopes, to lasers, supercomputers and the Large Hadron Collider – helping physicists, chemists and biologists to understand our world and the Universe beyond.

Last updated: 13 June 2018


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