HPCC, science education and science research are ushering in a new era of learning. Through hands-on activities, state-of-the-art experiments, and novel interactive advanced computing and communications technologies, high school students immerse themselves in educational materials based on cutting-edge, truly modern science research. Closer linkages and shared methods between students and research scientists help attract students of many backgrounds to science as a subject and as a profession.
The major impact of HPCC technologies on education will follow the growing integration of HPCC technologies with inquiry-based science learning in the classroom. Direct collaborations with professional scientists and engineers, carried over high bandwidth networks, allow teachers and students to dynamically integrate new scientific advances and methodologies with their own education. In addition, a growing number of HPCC funded programs such as SuperQuest provide individual students with access to high performance computers for student-directed research projects. The two research projects described below illustrate the usefulness of both approaches. In many cases, these activities lead to science and technology careers for students who previously considered these careers outside of their reach.
The Learning Through Collaborative Visualization testbed explores educational uses of scientific visualization and collaborative software tools through shared computer workspaces and two-way audio/video connections. In this project, students and teachers near Chicago (shown on previous page) are working on meteorology with atmospheric scientists and graduate students in Champaign-Urbana, and will be joined in 1993 by students and teachers in Michigan. Together, they will study the modeling of unusual weather patterns in their area, utilizing real-time weather data from satellites and other sources, such as clouds, temperature and moisture. Any current information on weather, such as the impending conditions giving rise to a developing storm, can be accessed using networks and displayed using local visualization tools, by researchers and students alike.
Diffusion limited aggregation (DLA) structures arise naturally in fields of science, ranging from electrochemical deposition and dendritic solidification to various breakdown phenomena such as dielectric breakdown, viscous fingering, chemical dissolution, and the rapid crystallization of lava. It is not surprising then that there is much interest in the computer modeling of DLA and its variants. Using the computer simulation of DLA, the student can discover new structures that are aesthetically beautiful and at the same time have physical meaning. Students model structures ranging from snowflakes to cancer cells. In the illustration, a student models straight DLA and ascertains its potential energy distribution along the perimeter. As a consequence, the student discovers that the most active regions on the cluster are near the tips.
Color-coded electric field in the vicinity of an electrical conductor molded in the shape of a recently discovered DLA fractal object. The high school student performing the research was a finalist in the 1993 Westinghouse Science Talent Search.