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)

Our recent workshop: Facilitating Data Inclusion and Empowerment through Arts-Based, Creative and Playful Approaches

This past week Parcos took part in the Community & Technology conference of June 2021. We hosted a full day workshop as part of C&T, as well as a free mini workshop on Community Day. 

Data Comics 

At both workshops we presented an activity based around the concept of data stories. The workshop participants were presented with a series of data comics or infographics, made and curated by our Parcos team. Then they were asked to make a data story about the information presented in the data comics/infographics, and to come up with their own interpretations about what the data may be telling us. The data was curated into comic format as a way to easily translate complicated information for a general audience. 

The three data comics that were presented.  

Data Stories  

Data stories are a tool for science communication that allows the general public to participate in the process of research alongside researchers, and to share their own interpretations of data. Data stories are a great tool for community participation and data inclusion. The data stories made during our workshops were very open ended. We asked participants to come up with their own interpretations of what might be going on in the data comics, and then to communicate those interpretations through writing, drawing or whatever other creative means they might want to use.  

Just a few examples of the data stories that were made during the workshops. 

We’re continuing the data inclusivity discussion on Discord! And you can join us at the link here!  

ParCos policy brief: Participatory Communication of Science


We are happy to publish our first policy brief, where we detail our position on the need for more participatory and open science.

This report, aimed at academics and academic policy makers, will highlight the benefits of not just publishing science data for other scientists but making it easier for the public to use. We will also highlight the benefits of widening the ways in which the public can participate in science research, depending on the level of involvement that they want – whether it is active participation or if it is simply having better access to underlying evidence of published science communications.

Continue reading “ParCos policy brief: Participatory Communication of Science”

Are you interested in making change from the bottom up?

“Now more than ever, we need to break down barriers to accessing technology and value diverse experiences and perspectives as we create new technical solutions.” If you are interested in tech, access and diversity and how to make change from the bottom up, then read this blog post by ParCos project member Zoe Banks Gross, who is the Sustainable Neighbourhoods Programme Manager at Knowle West Media Centre.