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El Cerrito High School Students Take in Computing Sciences

May 4, 1999

A group 17 math and science students from El Cerrito High School recently visited the Lab last week to learn about real-world applications of mathematics and the various high-performance computing programs in Computing Sciences. The goal of the visit was to give students a look at possible career directions.

The group was accompanied by Bob Fabini, who teaches physics and chemistry at the school. The visit stemmed from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle last fall about Jolanta Walukiewicz, a teacher at the school who strives to keep students -- particularly girls -- interested in math and science.

The students listened attentively to the presentations and asked good questions about topics ranging from computer programming to the accuracy of computer simluations to working at the Laboratory.

Computing Sciences staff members who met with the group were Tom DeBoni, who described computer architectures and concepts; Sherry Li, who talked about developing algorithms for solving various types of problems; Denise Wolf, who discussed how computers have opened up a new area of science called computational biology; Ann Almgren, who described how simulations are being used to study problems such as turbulence; and Ravi Malladi, who showed movies of three-dimensional medical images created from two-dimensional data.

The group also toured the NERSC supercomputer facility, the Computing Sciences Visualization Lab and the Energy Sciences Network operations center. The three-dimensional visualizations were a particular hit.

As he and his fellow students were boarding the bus to go back to school, Syed Ali Rizvi stopped to take a few snapshots of the Lab. “I haven’t seen anything like this before,” he said. “I wish I could be working in an environment like this.”

After the visit, two students and a teacher followed up with note expressing appreciation and interest in building on the connection.

“Thank you very much for the field trip to Computing Sciences,” wrote Jolanta Walukiewicz, the teacher who coordinated the students’ participation. “All participants — the kids and the physics teacher — were very impressed and enthusiastic when they told me about the trip! The kids appreciated the effort the presenters made to clearly and simply explain the nature of their complicated work. It appears that every child was able to make a connection and to learn.”

One student, a sophomore named Dmitiriy Afanasyev, said he got his first computer at age 5 and has been working on them for 10 years. “I got very excited about everything I saw and heard. Would it be possible for me to volunteer at the Lab during the summer vacation? I'm really interested in all that stuff and I would be happy to do anything, just to learn how does all of it work.”

About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

The Computing Sciences Area at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory(Berkeley Lab) provides the computing and networking resources and expertise critical to advancing Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC) research missions: developing new energy sources, improving energy efficiency, developing new materials, and increasing our understanding of ourselves, our world, and our universe. ESnet, the Energy Sciences Network, provides the high-bandwidth, reliable connections that link scientists at 40 DOE research sites to each other and to experimental facilities and supercomputing centers around the country. The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) powers the discoveries of 7,000-plus scientists at national laboratories and universities. NERSC and ESnet are both Department of Energy Office of Science National User Facilities. The Computational Research Division (CRD) conducts research and development in mathematical modeling and simulation, algorithm design, data storage, management and analysis, computer system architecture and high-performance software implementation.

Berkeley Lab addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the DOE’s Office of Science. The DOE Office of Science is the United States' single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.