Raptors star surprise Toronto students

The Toronto Raptor surprised students during an event for data science program Data Dunkers for kids grades 5 to 12, which the star forward’s PS43 Foundation supports along with Dell Technologies.

Excitement filled the gymnasium at Monsignor Percy Johnson Catholic Secondary School in Rexdale as Pascal Siakam made a surprise appearance, eliciting shrieks and cheers from the students.


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The Toronto Raptors star surprised attendees at an event for the Data Dunkers program, which focuses on data science for students in grades 5 to 12. Siakam’s PS43 Foundation collaborated with Dell Technologies, Callysto, and Digital Movement for this initiative.

Engaging in some basketball with the kids, the 2019 NBA champion took time to interact with students involved in the program. Data Dunkers uses basketball statistics to educate kids about data analytics and its practical applications in real-life scenarios.

Expressing his support for integrating data science into school curricula, Siakam emphasized, “I believe technology is the future. Our kids are the future, and it’s crucial to provide them with the necessary tools not only for their current lives but also to excel in whatever they choose to pursue.”

The event lasted for an hour and involved Pascal Siakam retrieving missed shots from students aged 12 to 16, who were creating a dataset by attempting shots from distances of two, four, six, eight, and ten feet away.

Brendan Browne, the director of education at the Toronto Catholic District School Board, highlighted that the program aims to introduce students to data science in an enjoyable and interactive manner. Moreover, it aims to broaden young people’s perspectives on potential career paths.

Addressing the gathered students, Browne emphasized, “We aim to showcase various pathways that might not have been considered before. Recognizing the significance of delving into data and information, and how it relates to future prospects and real-life applications.”

Following a successful two-week trial at the TCDSB during the summer, Data Dunkers was implemented in four schools in October, with plans for expansion in the upcoming year. The overarching objective is to introduce this program across multiple school boards in Canada.

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