Posted on / in Primary Engineer, STATWARS

Lights, Camera…Data!

(Best Overall Film Holy Trinity Primary School team The Brilliant Billboards)

National schools ‘STATWARS®’ competition launched at DataFest 2019

Calling all budding Steven Spielbergs, Kathryn Bigelows or Peter Jacksons, Netflix fans, and promising BBC Data Scientists! A national competition to design a film or tv series based on data has been launched today 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, as well as The BBC. Designed to encourage a generation of young people to engage with data, STATWARS® will be an annual, national competition culminating in awards and exhibitions. Interested schools are encouraged to sign up, log on and register your interest in the teaching resources via, full resource packs will be available from May.

(Jen Scurlock Statwars®, Chloe Trippier Statwars®, Gillian Doherty The DataLab, Roy Doherty City of Glasgow College, Dr Susan Scurlock Statwars®, Ivan McKee MP Scottish Government, Paul Sheeran Scottish Engineering, Ali Graigmile BBC, Graham Stow Statwars®, Jo Norwood Statwars®)

Funding from Skills Development Scotland Digital enabled a pilot to be delivered to Scottish schools which will be celebrated at the first awards ceremony at City of Glasgow College as part of DATAFEST.

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 the BBC, 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. We are grateful to all those who have given their time and energy to develop and support this new programme and to Skills Development Scotland Digital and the DATALAB for their financial and moral support through-out”.

(Ivan McKee MP with Milngavie Primary)

STATWARS® was launched today at the City of Glasgow College Riverside campus as part of DATAFEST 2019 by Mr Ivan McKee, MSP, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation. He said: “I am delighted to be launching STATWARS® as part of DataFest 2019. The Scottish Government’s STEM Strategy highlights the importance of young people being confident in data and digital skills for work and life in the modern world. We want to encourage school pupils to get involved in data and digital at an early age – opportunities like this are fantastic in helping to make this happen.”

And it’s already beginning – results of a pilot that has been running in 19 schools across Scotland were also announced and each winning pupil received a Nightingale Award, named in honour of Florence Nightingale, the renowned humanitarian who is less well known for being a leading statistician. A full list of the award-winning ‘STATWARRIORS’ and their schools is listed in the notes:

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.”

(Secondary School Newbattle High)

Alongside Primary Engineer, Skills Development Scotland (SDS Digital, The BBC and The Data Lab, STATWARS® is supported by several leading engineering companies and educational establishments including AMS NEVE, Scottish Engineering, Strathclyde University, Cloch Solicitors, Bad Dinosaur, ScotlandIS and WEIR Group.

Claire Gillespie, sector manager for digital technologies at SDS, said: “Data analysis is a vital skill for the workforce of the future. The ability to get under the skin of data, and make impactful decisions based on the understanding of that data, is so important to so many organisations. We loved the fact that STATWARS is helping to promote that message and skill set in a really fun, engaging and relevant way. I’m really looking forward to seeing the results.”

With an eye on the benefit for educators as well as pupils, STATWARS® provides free teaching resources including lesson plans, activity sheets and video tutorials that help unlock the value of data.  The competition is also an open invitation 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, please visit to get involved.

(Our Lady of Loretto Primary School)