K-12 teachers benefit from attending and participating in SUPERCOMPUTING '95

By Cynthia Lanius

Last fall, the Association for Computing Machinery, SIGARCH, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) selected 200 teachers from around the nation to attend the SUPERCOMPUTING '95 conference in San Diego. Thanks to our association with the CRPC, Houston area teachers Susan Boone, Lucille Barerra, and I were chosen to attend the conference and learn about the latest developments in high- performance computing and communications technology and their application to solving the most complex and important scientific problems our world faces today.

The SC '95 Education Program for teachers focused on incorporating computational technologies into curricula and real-world applications in industrial and research laboratories, with great emphasis on the use of the Internet. There were special sections on graduate and undergraduate computational science education, K-12 education, and networking of communities.

In one hands-on session on the Internet, teachers used "ray tracing" to create an animated film. Ray tracing, a technology used in the animation of the movie "Toy Story," is an advanced graphics technique for building faster three-dimensional images by modeling the interaction of light and matter. "This is a fantastic way for students to apply their understanding of coordinate geometry and learn to create computer graphics used in scientific visualization," says Boone.

Teachers displayed and presented posters for the benefit of all conference attendees on programs they have implemented in their schools. Boone presented a successful poster on GirlTECH, the CRPC-sponsored program that addresses gender representation issues in the computational sciences (see Summer 1995 Parallel Computing Research, page 12).

In addition to attending Education Program classes, many teachers stopped by the CRPC booth to learn about the center's outreach programs. Geoffrey Fox and Kim Mills of the Northeast Parallel Architectures Center at Syracuse University presented information about the Living Schoolbook, a multidisciplinary project that enables teachers and students to use educational resources on multimedia information servers, supercomputers, parallel databases, and network testbeds. "I think the Living Schoolbook is a valuable model for students to use in developing their own projects," says high school teacher and CRPC booth visitor Michael Sixtus of Imperial Beach, CA. "In these days of alternative assessment and finding new ways of determining what our students know about a subject, this is a useful and innovative format."

SUPERCOMPUTING '96 will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, November 17-22, 1996. For more information, see http://www.supercomp.org/sc96/ .

Cynthia Lanius is GirlTECH Project Manager, Rice University School Mathematics Project Associate Director, mathematics teacher, and is an active collaborator in CRPC education outreach programs. To submit contributions and ideas for future columns, send email to lanius@rice.edu . For more information on the CRPC's educational outreach programs, contact http://www.crpc.rice.edu/CRPC/ .

Left to right: Cynthia Lanius, Lucille Barerra, and Susan Boone display Boone's GirlTECH poster at SUPERCOMPUTING '95. The three Houston-area teachers were among 200 teachers from around the nation selected by conference sponsors to attend SC '95.

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