Engaging youth in data stories through a personalised weather forecast

As part of the Belgian case studies, the Flemish public broadcaster VRT welcomes children and families to experience a personalised weather forecast at the ‘More Weather’ expo in Ostend from the 3rd of July till the 29th of August. The forecast allows them to revisit the weather data for their day of birth, as well as over time. By creating a data story that is relatable and accessible to a wider audience, VRT aims to present data via media in an engaging way and encourage a younger audience to interpret that data. By immersing them in the storytelling and sensemaking process of weather data, we aim to illustrate the larger theme of climate change.

Using weather data to engage kids

At the start of the design explorations, weather data was identified as an adept data set to tackle and illustrate the larger challenge of attributing meaning to abstract data. As such, weather data is already actively present in people’s daily lives, eg. via weather forecasts. However, not many people would be triggered to unpick and explore the data behind those forecasts. We believe that when we integrate ways for audiences to explore that data via a recognisable medium, they would be driven to make sense of it, and link it to their own world.

Building on this notion, by telling (data) stories in an accessible and interactive way, we aim to support and empower audiences to not only make sense of the data, but also make connections about its significance in the real world. If we can motivate a larger audience to delve into this difficult matter, it can help them overcome an initial overwhelming feeling of trying to grasp data and charts. 

Design process for data stories in media

The development of the weather forecast is the result of a series of design explorations with weather data by students of LUCA School of Arts. Following ParCos’s user-centric approach, one of the students created an animated narrative about the meaning of seasonal data for a younger audience. Together with the producers of the ‘More Weather’ expo, VRT’s youth channel Karrewiet, and a digital creative, the student further explored this narrative and built on the ParCos methodology. The result is an interactive weather forecast showing weather data for visitors’ birthdays over time.

The underlying approach will be illustrated in the ParCos Storyteller toolkit, which provides a set of data storytelling techniques and strategies that can be used in broadcast media and immersive storytelling. 

More information about the expo can be found on https://meerweeraanzee.be (in Dutch)