Resources for the Computational Sciences for K-12 Teaching and Learning

Expo . Learning about Supercomputing

Mobile Devices and 3 D Movies and the Digital Generation

Computational Thinking Resources and Lessons

You will hear me talk about the work we do in computational science. Don’t turn your nose up. It is not that hard to do with careful attention to the subject, mentoring and dedicated practice and involvement in the subject.

You use supercomputing applications all the time. Your doctor does in creating images  that can see inside the body. You can see photographs of these at the Nanomedicine issue of Nanooze. I was very happy to have the new sciences image the my neck in a search of my thyroid. Before, the imaging they were using long needles to capture a cell to look at. It was a random sampling, and it also was not very effective in prediction. I did have to have surgery. The needles missed the mark.

Your Body  , Yourself!!

One example is that of Imaging the body. X-rays and the use of radiation to show using a beam electromagnetism to create a single image at a time is one way.

CT Computed tomography is an image in which xrays are used to create a series of cross sectional images that can provide a much more detailed view of the body than a single x-ray.

MRI, magnetic resonance imaging uses powerful magnetic fields and radio waves to create a series of  cross sectional images that are very detailed.

Ultrasound we probably all know, which uses sound waves that are used to produce a real time moving image.

New ways of imaging the body ? Fluorescent nanoparticles are currently being tested to provide new ways of  to image the body.

High Performance Computing? What is that? Applications you use every day in many ways for weather, earth science, GPS location , so many ways.  When you have time, this is a site to carefully read and think about.

I guess it is American to pretend that you don’t like what science can bring you. High performance computing helps us every day. You would be surprised to know what the applications are that are so much a part of your every day life. Computational reasoning is the core of all modern Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics ( STEM) disciplines and is intrinsic to all sother disciplines from A to Z. You may not be able to define or share what computational thnking is but it is used in our every day lives from baking a cake, changing a tire or brushing our teeth. THe human brain is wired to think computationally as or modern computing devices. as educators a Computational Thinking perspective can help us to convey fundamental computing ideas to all students.Computer science is having a revolutionary impact on scientific research and discovery. Simply put, it is nearly impossible to do scholarly research in any scientific or engineering discipline without an ability to think computationally. The impact of computing extends far beyond science, however, affecting all aspects of our lives. To flourish in today’s world, everyone needs computational thinking.

What is computational thinking?

According to the Google Study Group

Computational thinking (CT) involves a set of problem-solving skills and techniques that software engineers use to write programs that underlay the computer applications you use such as search, email, and maps. Specific techniques include: problem decomposition,pattern recognitionpattern generalization to define abstractions or models, algorithm design, and data analysis and visualization.

Computational thinking makes it possible for transplant surgeons to realize that more lives can be saved by optimizing the exchange of organs among pools of donors and recipients. It enables new drug designs to be analyzed so that they are less likely to create drug-resistant strains of diseases.

Artists, when given the tools to think and express themselves computationally, can create totally new modes of human experience. Users of the Internet, when empowered with computational thinking, can demystify privacy technologies and surf the web safely.

Tranforming Schools, Changing Practice, Meeting the Needs of the Future

I have been working with computational thinking and modeling for about ten years. At first the people in the field said they were only interested in juniors and seniors and undergraduates. When a group of us created a team to show the advantage of K-12 infusion we were treated as if we had lost our minds. There were a few people who encouraged us to do teams and we continued our work. Mostly we worked around conferences and workshops in the field following educators.

Fortunately there were resources that were available in the Foundation, and then there were individual curriulum pieces that were generated for teacher use. Later there were visualization and modeling practices that were taught by NCIS, and through the Teragrid.

Support for K-12

One person besides Bob Panoff was very much interested in K-12. That was and is Henry Neeman, who actually came to the various conferences where K-12 and college professors met to share and to work to create awareness. We are fortunate to have a SIG in the ( AACE) conference. We are happy to be able to present in Nashville.

Another concern that people had was about teacher ability. Some argued that teachers were not able to learn languages nor understand visualization and modeling. Even at the Convocation on the Gathering Storm, K-12 took a hit. Of course, there were very few real teachers in the audience. The consensus was that K-12 needed support.

There is on the site, curriculum that shows that this is not true. But , it is true that in the last two years, people have still been saying , well just take it to the kids. Teacher professional development and skill building in computer languages in K-12 is a key to more teaching and learning at the classroom levels.
Karen North, Ray Rose, Bob Plants, Vic Sutton,Joyce Mayln Smith, Mano Talaiver Carolyn Staudt, Joyce Pittman and Katie Klinger worked in Denver on a shoestring and  and in a grassroots initiative before ISTE  to create , share and show the possibilities to teachers who had never heard of any of the initiatives we were sharing in STEM and in the computational sciences., pioneered for some of us the use of IPads in working with probes. Mobile devices will make a difference.

Carolyn Staudt demonstrated the use of mobile use of probes to our learning community and shared these resources.

At the Concord Consortium, they saw this mobile revolution brewing fifteen years ago. they have been working to help teachers  put this power to use ever since. They were the first ever to connect probes and sensors to mobile computers in the name of education. And their research has demonstrated how this combination can bring students to new learning heights.

Mobile computers are cheap and easily available. So they’re a great candidate for bringing technology to all. They have been  researching and developing new Web technologies for these platforms to provide highquality learning in science, math and engineering at any time and place. They belueve the  results of this work will help students learn faster, more easily, and more conveniently.

They are also still connecting probeware to new platforms a decade after we began the quest, targeting platforms such as Android, the iPhone, and the iPad. These platforms hold incredible potential for supporting learning in new ways.

Theur  current projects are researching

  • How tablet computers can help transform classroom interactions
  • How combining mobile computing and probeware can foster powerful learning
  • How new technology can make models and simulations available any time and any place.

And you can see this for yourself.

TERAGRID / Blue Waters

. We are very grateful to the Teragrid staff, particularly Scott Lathrop who stood by us as we learned, shared and participated in the use of supercomputing though some people tried to Excel us to death. We love Excel and understand it, but for a while it was all that people though we could handie. Then came Alexander Repening of Agent Sheets, and using his programs and ways of teaching , he involved teachers in a workshop that changed the way that some of us think about how teachers can be taught.

Scalable Game Design through the Atlas Institute was a model that showed that teachers could do hands on, and even I was able to create a game in two days.

Mission: Reinventing computer science in public schools by motivating & educating all students including women and underrepresented communities to learn about computer science through game design starting at the middle school level

Results: The project aimed at instructing 1200 students in 3 years but already instructed over 1300 students in the first semester; 52.3% of the students were girls, 78% of the girls want to continue! more…

Some of us as teachers have been rebuffed by those in authority, in education as being unable to learn, use and disseminate the use of computational thinking. What was also powerful was that we used digital wireless tools with visualizations on them IPAD to share what Supercomputers do in a booth on the mall to share the ideas with the public.

AgentSheets is a revolutionary tool that lets you create your own agent-based games and simulations and publish them on the Web through a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface.

AgentSheets users range from elementary school students to NASA scientists, entire school districts, and large federally funded university projects. Why should you use it? Build simulations to explore complex ideas, communicate ideas to others, or just build games:

• Computational Science: Interactive simulations help you grasp new ideas, test theories, explore complex processes in various science fields. Creating your own computational science applications deepens your understanding.

• Games: Building games (not just playing them) teaches you Computer Science concepts, logic, and algorithmic thinking. OurScalable Game Design approach is ideal for balancing motivational and educational concerns of computer education.

I was glad to find this in my mailbox today. Way to go Google!!!

Exploring Computational Thinking
Monday, October 25, 2010 at 10/25/2010 10:00:00 AM

Posted by Elaine Kao, Education Program Manager

Over the past year, a group of California-credentialed teachers along with our own Google engineers came together to discuss and explore ideas about how to incorporate computational thinking into the K-12 curriculum to enhance student learning and build this critical 21st century skill in everyone.

What exactly is computational thinking? Well, that would depend on who you ask as there are several existing resources on the web that may define this term slightly differently. We define computational thinking(CT) as a set of skills that software engineers use to write the programs that underlay all of the computer applications you use every day. Specific CT techniques include:

Problem decomposition: the ability to break down a problem into sub-problems
Pattern recognition: the ability to notice similarities, differences, properties, or trends in data
Pattern generalization: the ability to extract out unnecessary details and generalize those that are necessary in order to define a concept or idea in general terms
Algorithm design: the ability to build a repeatable, step-by-step process to solve a particular problem
Given the increasing prevalence of technology in our day-to-day lives and in most careers outside of computer science, we believe that it is important to raise this base level of understanding in everyone.

To this end, we’d like to introduce you to a new resource: Exploring Computational Thinking. Similar to some of our other initiatives in education, including CS4HS and Google Code University, this program is committed to providing educators with access to our curriculum models, resources, and communities to help them learn more about CT, discuss it as a strategy for teaching and understanding core curriculum, as well as easily incorporate CT into their own curriculum, whether it be in math, science, language, history or beyond. The materials developed by the team reflect both the teachers’ expertise in pedagogy and K-12 curriculum as well as our engineers’ problem-solving techniques that are critical to our industry.

Prior to launching this program, we reached out to several educators and classrooms and had them try our materials. Here’s some of the feedback we received:
CT as a strategy for teaching and student learning works well with many subjects, and can easily be incorporated to support the existing K-12 curriculum
Our models help to call out the specific CT techniques and provide more structure around the topics taught by educators, many of who were already unknowingly applying CT in their classrooms
Including programming exercises in the classroom can significantly enrich a lesson by both challenging the advanced students and motivating the students who have fallen behind
Our examples provide educators with a means of re-teaching topics that students have struggled with in the past, without simply going through the same lesson that frustrated them before
To learn more about our program or access CT curriculum materials and other resources, visit us at

The Power of US site is creating trnasformational learning through the use of HPC at a school.  We intend to transform American education using HPC in the curriculum of K-12 students. Some applications are here.

Web Resources

Below is a list of web resources related to CT, organized by subject. This list is not meant to be comprehensive, but is instead a short list of innovative resources that educators might find useful. For additional information or resources, visit our ECT Discussion Forums or search on your specific area of interest.

Computational Thinking

Computer Science

  • Alice: educational software that teaches computer programming in a 3D environment
  • CS Unplugged: free resources and learning activities that teach the principles of Computer Science
  • Computer Science-in-a-Box: Unplug Your Curriculum: lessons that explain how computers work without the use of a computer, with concepts from math and science
  • Exploring Computer Science: curriculum that uses computational thinking and inquiry-based learning to teach introductory Computer Science, designed specifically for high school classrooms
  • GameKit: free, friendly environment for allowing students who have never programmed before to experiment with programming
  • SAM Animation: user-friendly software that allows students and teachers to make stop-motion animations of whatever content they choose
  • Scalable Game Design: tutorials designed to explore the notion of scalable game design as an approach to balancing education and motivation of IT fluency
  • Scratch: programming language that makes it easy for students to create interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art



  • Concord Consortium: free lessons and software for analyzing and manipulating data, providing an alternative approach to learning science concepts
  • PhET Interactive Simulations: fun, interactive research-based science simulations of physical phenomena that encourage quantitative exploration
  • Project GUTS (Growing up Thinking Scientifically): a summer and after-school science, technology, engineering and math program based in New Mexico that uses scientific inquiry to solve problems
  • Virtual Courseware Project: exploratory activities in earth and life sciences that encourage inquiry-based learning, especially designed for HS classrooms

Social Science

©2010 Google

Bonnie Bracey Sutton


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