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The 21-Day Data Challenge kicks off on February 17th, launching a three-week period of daily challenges in data analysis. Participants work through each challenge by relying on Python programming techniques like manipulating datasets, using math, and executing programming functions. Each challenge is designed as an entry point into a specific concept that’s fundamental to data analysis, like data cleaning or working with lists.

For the inexperienced novice, these challenges may seem a little daunting. But I promise there’s no need to be intimidated! The learning curve may seem a little steep, but by approaching the challenges with confidence and an open mind you’ll zip through them like a flying fish. Remember that there are a ton of resources to help you master data with Python, and that you’ll be completing the challenges alongside a community of learners that can support you.

We’ve put together this post to help explain what you should expect from the 21-Day Data Challenge, and how to best prepare for success. Read on to get briefed!

How the 21-Day Data Challenge Works

Lighthouse Labs has previously run 21-Day challenges that focus on coding. Over the past year, we’ve been attentive to the rise of data analysis as a hot-topic skill. Data analysis is no longer only essential for the data scientist sequestered away in his high-tech lab. In today’s digitizing world, data skills are becoming necessary through a wide range of professions, from journalism to human resources. Over 2020, Lighthouse launched a bootcamp and part-time courses in data science. Now, we want to introduce a broader demographic of people to data skills.

To encourage a broad swath of people to improve their career trajectories and opportunities by learning data skills, we wanted to create a casual learning program that’s fun, entertaining, and habit-forming. The 21-Day Data Challenge is tied to an eccentric storyline. Participants solve the challenges to help the protagonist, Dot, adapt to a new life off-the-grid. Each challenge is chock full of hints, explanations, and resources that ensure that everyone who participates isn’t left unmoored and anxiety-ridden. We encourage participants to read up on Python and data analysis outside of completing challenges.

The best way to start learning a new skill, especially one as complex as a programming language, is to practice every single day. The three weeks that constitute the 21DDC is long enough to really get into the zone of Python and data analysis. The idea is that when you’ve completed all 21 challenges, you’ll pivot off them to continue your data journey. Though these challenges are a great starting point, they’ll only consume 15 or 20 minutes of your day for 21 days. To have a robust understanding of Python and data analysis, you should cultivate your curiosity.

Preparing for Success Before the 21DDC

If you want to make sure that you won’t have any difficulty with the 21-Day Data Challenge, we recommend that you start learning before you tackle the challenges. Here is our free introductory course to Python. For the wholly committed that are aiming for substantial success at the 21DDC, working through this free online course will teach you some great Python basics.

There are also mountains and mountains of online resources that can teach you about Python and data analysis. For some examples:

There are also tons of communities of Python users online, like [https://www.reddit.com/r/Python/] or [https://python-forum.io/].

Maintaining Momentum Through all 21 Challenges

Once you’ve begun working through the daily challenges, you’ll want to complete all 21 days for maximum impact. And of course, the more challenges you complete, the more likely you are to win an awesome prize. To avoid burning out or wavering in your commitment, there are a few tips that’ll help you out.

Establish a Proper Study Area

This rule is an important one for any kind of education. When you’re trying to learn something from home, staying committed might be difficult. Home can be a distracting place, and the fact that the environment is multi-purpose can confuse your brain. Things like a cluttered room or a noisy roommate can increase your level of stress, and decrease your level of focus.

To stay attentive to your Python exercises and move smoothly through the challenges, we recommend that you set up a study nook for yourself. Dedicate some area of your home as the Python Programming Partition, and make sure it’s as organized and conducive to learning as possible.

Keep Learning Outside the Challenges

Learning a new skill for 15 or 20 minutes a day is great, and can definitely get you familiar with Python and data analysis. But if you want to really kick start a routine of deep learning, you should keep learning outside of the daily challenges. To facilitate a process of deeper learning, try and lean into a sense of natural curiosity and inquisitiveness.

Every challenge will be focused on a different concept fundamental to Python and data analysis. When completing the challenges, try to go a bit deeper into the concepts. Take initiative, and go beyond the scope of what the challenge asks. If the challenge is concerned with using a certain function, try to think of it with more flexibility; what would it look like if the function were used with a different data type? Can the function be combined with the function you learned the previous day? What would that look like?

Get Involved With Other Participants and Python-Learners

One of the great things about the 21-Day Data Challenge is the collaborative and competitive nature of it. You won’t be moving through the challenges on your own. There will be tons of other people just like you, also trying their hand at Python and data analysis.

There are a couple key ways to lean into the communal aspect of the 21DDC. The first is to play as part of a team. The challenges are much more fun when you play them with others, and we encourage you to rally your friends/coworkers/neighbours/arch-enemies together to form a team. Plus, participants who play as a team can aim towards special team prizes.

You can also communicate with the others who are playing at the 21DDC over the forum. There, you can chat with others about difficulties you’re having, share great Python resources, and provide each other with encouragement and support.

Feeling confident that you can successfully move through all 21 challenges?