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El Cerrito High School Students Take in Computing Sciences

May 4, 1999

NOTE: This archived news story is made available as-is. It may contain references to programs, people, and research activities that are no longer active at Berkeley Lab. It may include links to web pages that no longer exist or refer to documents no longer available.

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 provides the computing and networking resources and expertise critical to advancing Department of Energy Office of Science research missions: developing new energy sources, improving energy efficiency, developing new materials, and increasing our understanding of ourselves, our world, and our universe.

Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 13 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science.