Lights, Camera…Data!

National schools ‘STATWARS’ competition to be launched at DataFest 2019

Calling all budding Spielbergs, Attenboroughs, Boyles or Netflix fans! A national competition to design a film or tv series based on real-life viewer data will be launched March 14th at DATAFEST 2019 – the UK’s first ever two-week festival of data innovation in Scotland. The STATWARS competition was created by Primary Engineer and is supported by a number of leading engineering organisations; including The BBC. Designed to encourage a generation of young people to engage with data, STATWARS runs until December 2019, and interested schools are encouraged to sign up via a specially created website at

Dr Susan Scurlock, MBE, founder of Primary Engineer, the organisation which encourages children into engineering career pathways said: “Anyone who has ever wondered what makes a great movie probably considers the actors, the director, the action and the storyline. Few of us really understand the data behind a smash hit. But a closer look at the burgeoning film and TV marketplace reveals that the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime use extensive data analysis to create many of their most popular TV series and films. This new competition is a fantastic opportunity for children to see the value, fun and potential career paths of data-driven engineering”.

STATWARS will be launched on March 14th at the City of Glasgow College Riverside campus as part of DATAFEST 2019 by Mr Ivan McKee, MSP, Minister for International Trade and Innovation.

Results of a pilot that has been running in 19 schools across Scotland will also be announced and each winning pupil will receive a Nightingale Award, named in honour of Florence Nightingale, the renowned humanitarian who is less well known for being a leading statistician.

On the STEM-by-Stealth educational value of the competition, Susan added: “STATWARS provides an entry point for young people to become excited about analysing, interrogating and presenting data. It also helps them develop the skills to use data securely in an inspiring subject area that touches everyone’s life. We’ll be working with renowned leaders in the data sector to engage the industry and inspire the children and young people who get involved.”

Alongside Primary Engineer and The BBC, STATWARS is supported by several leading engineering companies and educational establishments including AMS NEVE, Data Lab, Scottish Engineering, National Physical Laboratories, Cloch Solicitors, Bad Dinosaur and WEIR Group.

With an eye on the benefit for educators as well as pupils, STATWARS provides free teaching resources including lesson plans, teaching resources, activity sheets and video tutorials that help unlock the value of a dataset. The competition is also open to data scientists and analysts to provide their expertise to the younger generation via video or in-person visits to their local educational institutions.

Whether you are an educator looking to inspire your pupils, a student looking for something a bit different to do with data or a data scientist looking to lend your expertise visit to get involved.