Students in southern Alberta are learning to “hack” open data to gain in-demand technology skills

This morning, over 100 Grades 7-12 students are learning in-demand digital literacy skills – including data analysis and coding – at the Southwest Alberta Hackathon, hosted by Cybera, the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (PIMS), and Palliser Regional Schools. Working out of the Picture Butte High School gym, students will use open data from sources such as the City of Lethbridge and Statistics Canada to solve real-world challenges.

They will work through these challenges using Callysto, a national, curriculum-based online platform for teachers and students in Grades 5-12. The platform is funded through the federal CanCode program.

“Through CanCode, our government is investing in programs like Callysto to help young Canadians learn the digital literacy skills they need to succeed in the jobs of tomorrow,” says the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “[Today], these skills are equipping students in the Calgary and Lethbridge areas to succeed and seize future opportunities in a rapidly evolving digital economy.”

“There is definitely a demand for data-science skills,” adds Callysto ambassador David Hay, an elementary teacher with Elk Island Public Schools who is currently on sabbatical at Cybera to promote and develop the program. “Organizations want people who can make sense of — and communicate — data. We’re hoping to teach students these skills at the hackathon, where they will be using open data from local and national sources to make the learning relevant, and prepare them for real-life challenges.”

Jason Kwasny, Technology Integration Specialist at Palliser Regional Schools, says all students deserve the opportunity to explore their passions and showcase their skills.

“With that in mind we jumped at the opportunity to provide Palliser students with a novel way to demonstrate their talents in data analysis and coding,” he says. “Computational thinking skills are often dealt with in mathematics or computer science classes, and the recognition that these skills can be applied across the curriculum is important for our students and teachers to see.”

Fore more information on Callysto, or to request a hackathon or training event in your area, email

About Callysto

Callysto is a free, interactive, learning and skills development program for Grades 5-12 students in Canada. The program is part of a two-year pilot project by Cybera and the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences. They received funding from the federal government’s CanCode program to build and employ new technologies that promote digital literacy, and help Canada’s youth develop the foundational skills required to become the future drivers of innovation.

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