Big data and computing: school resources

Computing is becoming more and more important to our society and our economy. Traffic control, the internet, communications, commerce — they all rely on computing.

Big data is, as the name suggests, extremely large sets of information that can be analysed, visualised and presented in different ways to learn more about ourselves and the world around us.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has a wealth of fascinating stories about the different uses of computing and the amazing uses we’re putting big data to, for example:

  • analysing the structure of diseases
  • studying the earliest structures in our universe
  • building safer cars using computer simulations and models.


Here we have a selection of interesting and interactive resources such as websites, films, animations, apps, publications and guides. These can be used in the classroom or as background information for yourself.


NASA: A year in the life of Earths’ CO2

NASA uses supercomputers to model how carbon dioxide travels within our atmosphere, showing one year’s worth of data in just a few minutes.

Code Stars – short film

Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and explain why coding and computing is important.

Classroom activities

Computing at School has a wealth of resources for teachers and students studying computing.

STEM Learning and Teaching London Computing also have good resources.

Opportunities for students

Work experience with STFC

Our Scientific Computing Department offers work experience placements for students in years 10 to 13. The placements can be based at Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire.

Work experience at RAL.

Work Experience at Daresbury Laboratory.

A placement is a great opportunity to find out what it’s like working with supercomputers on some of the world’s most exciting projects.

For example, at RAL, all work experience students have the opportunity to take part in a three-day coding workshop on the basics of programming in the computer language Python.

Visit our facilities

Computing activities for schools (both primary and secondary) are run at our research facilities throughout the year.

How to visit our research facilities.

Masterclasses and computing clubs

The Royal Institution (Ri) runs computer science masterclasses with host organisations around the country.

Nominate your students for an Ri Masterclass.

Code Club coordinates a network of computing clubs around the UK. They can help you find volunteers to run a club, find resources to start a club in school or find the nearest existing club to your location.

Speakers for big data and computing

STEM Ambassadors are available to give talks to schools or other groups. They use their enthusiasm and commitment to encourage young people to enjoy science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

For more information contact Sophy Palmer, Public Engagement Manager, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.


Continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities

There are various organisations providing training opportunities across the UK relating to teaching big data and computing at different levels.

STEM Learning hosts and runs CPD and other teacher events in computing.

Computing at School also has details of local and national CPD and networking sessions.

Big data in the National Curriculum

Computing has become increasingly important in the school curriculum across the UK, covering basic programming skills and computational thinking.

The opportunities, resources and stories here are ways to bring the computing curriculum alive, showing students the variety of different opportunities their computing skills will open up.

We have more information on how STFC:

  • provides the computing and data storage needed by academics and industry
  • pushes the boundaries of our knowledge by developing new software and coding.

Read about our big data and computing research.

You can also read about other areas of science and technology that we are involved in.

Last updated: 31 March 2022

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.