US Russian Exchange… A life changing experience!!!

Welcome to Russia

I have been home long enough to take a reflective look back on the Russian Fellowship. I worked in Samara and Saint Petersburg. I spoke tourist level language. I learned a lot about living in the world. There is even a video that shows the big picture of the projects.


Video of the Project from the Eurasia Foundation
This short video gives an overview of SEE and showcases some of the amazing 2014 projects.
Be sure to watch from minute 3 for the (Education Group)
 Санкт-Петербург- Saint Petersburg, Russia
(once known also as Leningrad) was our first stop)1523887_10152192603016327_265439486_o.

My husband wrote,

VicSutton80By Vic Sutton

At a time when relations between the United States and Russia are cooling – if not cold – an innovative programme of the Eurasia Foundation continues to promote exchanges of professionals from both countries.

The ‘U.S.-Russia Social Expertise Exchange’ (SEE for short) was set up to promote co-operation between civil society leaders from the two countries.

Twelve working groups bring together experts in programme areas that include, for example, child protection, collaborative journalism, gender equity, and ‘rule of law and the community’.

Bonnie Bracey Sutton

My wife, Bonnie Bracey Sutton, is a member of the SEE working group on ‘Education and Youth’, and I had the chance to accompany her to its last meeting, held on 10-11 October in Washington, DC.The working group had a research seminar in March 2015,

Our greatest surprise was to discover that Russia, despite its leadership in areas like space technology, is a poor country. People take home USD 250-300 a month. Of course, prices are lower than in the U.S, so that is not so terrible in terms of purchasing power.

The U.S. Government has said that despite poor political relationships, social and cultural exchanges between the two countries will continue to be funded. We hope so, and we will see what modest support we can provide to contribute to them.

Saint Petersburg 

Russian Language?DSCN2090

I tried to learn the Russian language, but I was not fluent.  Help I received from younger fellows who were Russian Language Majors was excellent.Google Glass helped me us with menu choices, locations and navigation.

My teacher used very formal lessons which worked in very , very formal situations. Later in the trip we had others who facilitated easily.Perhaps because they were Russian ( English Language Teachers) they stayed  in the background except when needed. People were friendly and accommodating. Many people speak reasonable English. There is a respect for age. People give up their seats and they help you. This was a surprise to me.


I had help from Google Glass for some things. It was like a second helper to me. I could do street signs and use Google translate for menus and programs as well. I could find things in stores, and negotiate the metro. I did not wear it much except in classrooms and in places to dine , since my Russian is at tourist level.It was helpful because it could define areas of the cities to know about , and places that I would like to visit, though I was not there for a vacation.There was little play time. Most helpful was a knowledge of cultural geography, and a refreshment reading of the Ages of Civilization ( Will and Ariel Durant’s history of the world). Internet was always available and fast in the hotels where I stayed. Schools were somewhat conservative in use of technology except in the Institute for Medicine. ( I will explain that later)

Education is very different in Russia.Here are pictures of this wonderful place. It has unusual facilities.

Education, Race and Place

Speaking about education in the US is at best complicated, . Institutes have thematic approaches to learning that are integrated and career oriented.

I was warned about racism in Russia. it was not a problem for me.Well, I giggled like a nervous school girls when a student labeled me exotic and talked about reading Anne Rice’s novels.This student wanted to go to New Orleans and eat red beans and rice, and or gumbo. This was on a day when I was thinking to myself, hair I am, that was because I forgot to bring a curling iron or Moroccan oil and the costs of cosmetics from the US, were prohibitive.


It was then that I noticed that lots of people had blue eyes and straight hair. I never saw another person to identify as of color, except a West African who clearly was enjoying his status in Saint Petersburg as a rare individual. Once someone asked me how old I was. Once a small child kissed me . Always in the Metro, people got up and gave me a seat. That was interesting to observe. The constant rain or snow frizzed my hair on a daily basis.I think I am a weather wimp. I now understand why my part of the world (Washington DC is called the South)and I do have a pair of Uggs..


Saint Petersburg was very international. People from all over the world were visiting .It is an international city like Washington, DC.

We visited private and state schools which are termed Institutes. Institutes have a theme and students are educated , constantly on that theme so that their talents and skills can be cultivated. No need to “flip” classes, as there are not pull outs and interruptions in the school day from what we observed. The classes, sports, chorus, dance and involvement with museums and other learning institutions is after school and for a sustained period of time. Students in big cities have
access to food, after school care, and resources of a cultural or sports project.

Capital Cities. Washington, Saint Petersburg( swamp cities)

Thinking about going to Saint Petersburg , meant wading through it’s history which I am still absorbing. I was there on the anniversary of the siege of Leningrad, which was it’s name at that time. At first I did not understand what it was all about. Old men with gold medals and people
came to celebrate the breaking of the siege of Saint Petersburg. A bulletin board in a room in a school got my attention. Then I understood. Technology online gave me the story.

This is from the web site of Saint Petersburg.

” This was undoubtedly the most tragic period in the history of the city, a period full of suffering and heroism. For everyone who lives in St. Petersburg the Blokada (the Siege) of Leningrad is an important part of the city’s heritage and a painful memory for the population’s older generations.
Less than two and a half months after the Soviet Union was attacked by Nazi Germany, German troops were already approaching Leningrad. The Red Army was outflanked and on September 8 1941 the Germans had fully encircled Leningrad and the siege began. The siege lasted for a total of 900 days, from September 8 1941 until January 27 1944. The city’s almost 3 million civilians (including about 400,000 children) refused to surrender and endured rapidly increasing hardships in the encircled city. Food and fuel stocks were limited to a mere 1-2 month supply, public transport was not operational and by the winter of 1941-42 there was no heating, no water supply, almost no electricity and very little food. In January 1942 in the depths of an unusually cold winter, the city’s food rations reached an all time low of only 125 grams (about 1/4 of a pound) of bread per person per day. In just two months, January and February of 1942, 200,000 people died in Leningrad of cold and starvation.”
Saint Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia, politically incorporated as a federal subject and was created, like Washington , DC, on a swamp. It was a Russian window to the west.. It is located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. This makes it very interesting in terms of it’s geographic position, and locale.

When I was there it was a frozen city. It was cold I was not prepared for it. I think the
weather was severe for me, but I learned to manage it with the right clothing, attitude and
food. I imagine that people who live in colder climates found my discomfort interesting if not funny.

Finally, I accepted that it would snow every day and learned to walk on snow over ice. Hood, hat, scarf and thick boots. I also drank lots of hot tea ate oatmeal, rice porridge and wonderful soups.

DNA of Cultural Components

If you think food, shelter, clothing, music, schools, transportation and communication.
Russian culture has a rich history, strong traditions and influential arts, especially when it comes to literature, philosophy, classical music, ballet, architecture, painting, cinema and animation. In a museum there is a complex outreach to students in the region.

Some museums are completely supported by the state, no outside funding needed or wanted.
That was a surprise to me.

The US Russia Opening Doors Project


The US-Russia Opening Doors project is a project of the Eurasia Foundation.

Opening Doors to Collaboration
(US-Russia)(English version)
Bonnie and Vic Sutton have worked, learned and shared best practices in this program, with travel, study and outreach in Russia.We worked with Dr. Yvonne Andres. She says

“As educators, our ultimate goals are two: to open the door to a world of infinite possibility for our youth, and to help them learn how to learn — opening doors, lighting the way and connecting youth.”

Attached is a link to her educational outreach video. This video will be available in both English and Russian. And, there will also be downloadable teaching materials available in August.

We quite are thrilled to have been granted special permission from Pete Townshend (The Who) to use his song, “Let My Love Open the Door.”

Open your Doors to Collaboration
Watch the video – and join the project!

Dr. Yvonne Marie Andres – Globally Connecting Every Educator by 2020

Transforming Teacher Use of Technology with Use of Teragrid Outreach Resources

Sharing the Vision of THe Teragrid

Family Science Days AAAS Teragrid Outreach

Three Dimension/Film of the Teragrid Outreach in the AAAS Science booth

You may ask, what is the Teragrid?

Teachers find it an empowering resource…

A formal definition is this:

TeraGrid is an open scientific discovery infrastructure combining leadership class resources at 11 partner sites to create an integrated, persistent computational resource.

Using high-performance network connections, TeraGrid integrates high-performance computers, data resources and tools, and high-end experimental facilities around the country. Currently, TeraGrid resources include more than 2.5 petaflops of computing capability and more than 50 petabytes of online and archival data storage, with rapid access and retrieval over high-performance networks. Researchers can also access more than 100 discipline-specific databases. With this combination of resources, the TeraGrid is the world’s largest, most comprehensive distributed cyberinfrastructure for open scientific research.

TeraGrid is coordinated through the Grid Infrastructure Group (GIG) at the University of Chicago, working in partnership with the Resource Provider sites: Indiana University, the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the National Institute for Computational Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, Purdue University, San Diego Supercomputer Center, Texas Advanced Computing Center, and University of Chicago/Argonne National Laboratory, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The research community supports teachers, and education through outreach in several ways.  Each of the research communities has a specific education section . Gateway if you will to the use of the research .

San Diego Supercomputing Center features the subject of Computational Thinking using a well thought out project that was written by Pat Phillips of Microsoft. You can find that here:

You may have noticed that the major teacher organizations, CSTA, ISTE, CoSN, and SITE featured papers, workshops and discussions on the use of computational thinking in the classroom. This was a planned outreach started by the network of educators and researchers within the Teragrid network.

Here is one of the papers presented at the Consortium for School Networking in New Orleans in 2011:

Executive Summary

The 2010 National Educational Technology Plan says “…technology is at the core of virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work…. Whether the domain is English language arts, mathematics, sciences, social studies, history, art, or music, 21st-century competencies and such expertise as critical thinking, complex problem solving, collaboration, and multimedia communication should be woven into all content areas.”

Since the late 1990s, the US has been trying to describe what a 21st century education should look like. Futurists are trying to divine the skills that will be needed for jobs that do not yet exist, employing technologies that have not yet been invented. However, a careful look around can allow us to see many areas that have been virtually unnoticed by those who are focused on 21st century skills.

Supercomputing – sometimes called high performance computing – is not a new technology concept, but the supercomputers of 25 years ago were about as powerful as a cell phone is today, and likewise the supercomputers of today will be no better than a laptop of 10 to 15 years from now. As the world of the biggest and fastest computers has evolved and these computers have become increasingly available to industry, government, and academia, they are being used in ways that influence everyday life, from the cars we drive, to the food in our cupboards, to the movies we enjoy.

Supercomputing is not an end in itself, but rather the technological foundation for large scale computational and data-enabled science and engineering, or computational science, for short. It is a collection of techniques for using computing to examine phenomena that are too big, too small, too fast, too slow, too expensive, or too dangerous to experiment on in the real world. While problems with small computing footprints can be examined on a laptop, the grand challenge problems most crucial for us to address have enormous computing footprints and, thus, are best solved via supercomputing.

As a result, in order to be competitive as a nation, we need to produce knowledge workers in far greater numbers who understand both what supercomputers can do and how to use them effectively to improve our understanding of the world around us and our day to day lives.

The thinking about large scale and advanced computing has evolved, too. Today, we realize that, while not everyone will be using big computing in their jobs, they will need to understand the underlying concepts.

These concepts collectively are referred to as ‘computational thinking’, a means of describing problems and how to solve them so that their solutions can be found via computing (paraphrased from Jeanette Wing, Jan Cuny, and Larry Snyder). Computational thinking includes abstraction, recursion, algorithms, induction, and scale.

Our 21st century citizens, entrepreneurs, leadership, and workforce will be best positioned to solve emerging challenges and to exploit new opportunities if they have a strong understanding of computational thinking, how it applies to computational science, and how it can be implemented via high performance computing. These are true 21st century competencies that will serve our nation well.

The authors of the paper have been immersed, involved and integrated into the Teragrid community through attending workshops, NCSI initiatives, online contact with the researchers and outreach specialists over a period of time that has proved to create a powerful network of educators sharing the story of possibilities within the Teragrid.

An initial outreach , Teacher Bridge Day , which preceded  an ISTE and CSTA conference, united teachers and educators who then continued to work together over the period of months . The teachers benefitted from the combined efforts of the many researchers and outreach specialists who participated and contributed to the very first workshop.  Following that workshop, there were involvements with ITest through Joyce Malyn Smith.

I am pleased to say that this year , Joyce and the educators at reported a large number of people interested in the strand. Joyce took the idea and developed it into a specialized strand for the ITest Community.

Here are a few of the 2011 presentations from the Aera Annual Meeting.

There may be more resources that link to the outreach of the Teragrid. I have chosen these to share.

Joyce was also a force at the SITE conference in Nashville, TN. The informal outeach team, those of us who try to broaden engagement and show diversity were there to shake up the force within . We established a SIG for Computational Thinking and fielded a number of workshops.

We worked also at the K-12 levels of technology in Texas at TCEA.

Everything  is Big in Texas:  TACC and Supercomputing , at  TCEA

Ranger?    Stallion ? Computational Thinking and Learning

I  go to Texas a lot. My brother lives there, friends live there,  NASA holds events. I have been to Lockhart for BBQ, to Galveston for a wedding, to San Antonio and other places. I even know lots of recipes and ways to BBQ. But Austin put the icing on the cake for those of us doing digital outreach and broadening engagement in Supercomputing.I took classes at Rice (Teacher Tech) with a Supercomputing scholarship.  I have digital sisters and brothers in Texas.


Why not? Texas is a huge state and I have found lots of friends and educators who support my ways of thinking there.

I participated in a Teacher Tech  workshop at Rice University in Houston, and met Karen North and Dr. Richard Tapia. For a long time I was in constant email touch with a LOT of Texans. We were not sure what kind of reception we weuld get in 2011, this being a new topic to many people. I have been to Austin a lot, so when I see the statue of Barbara Jordan and the big guitars, I feel at home. We had a Supercomputing conference in Austin a few years ago as well.

Ray Rose, Henry Neeman, Vic Sutton and I have been a team at other conferences, we were literally breaking the ice in Austin for educators. It was scary to do.

. (It was very , very cold)  The keynote was a very warm one by Leigh Anne Touhy. The Blind Side was written about her true life experience. She set the tone for broadening engagement and social justice for me. She shared how her life was changed . I had not seen the movie , but I will.

We think that in education there is a blind side to the understanding of technology, particularly computational science, so we put together a workshop for Supercomputing and the use of the Teragrid and we did  a workshop for Emerging Technologies, and a tour of the TACC center.on the campus.

TCEA  Supercomputing and the Teragrid…  no limits, remember?

Henry Neeman has a great presentation , ” What in the World is Supercomputing!“. We took it to a state conference. Did I mention he is from Okahoma? They razzed him a lot, but he just kept on presenting. The interesting thing about it is that he is a reseacher, who can bring the ideas down to earth with fun, and understanding. Henry can do this in person, on line or in a course online. You can fund a lot of the information here.

Nothing like being with him in person however. Think Puzzle. Think a guy moving around at the speed of light, absolutely able to help you understand Supercomputing. This is Henry.

Dr. Neeman also has taught a series of workshops titled “Supercomputing in Plain English”, directed at an audience of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff not only in computer science but also in a variety of physical science and engineering fields. Dr. Neeman’s research interests include high performance computing, scientific computing, parallel and distributed computing, structured adaptive mesh refinement, scientific visualization, Grid computing and computer science education. You can find his materials on line. He is the Education and Outreach Chair for Supercomputing 2012 in Seattle.

We embarked , engaged, energized , and educated teachers so that they could be empowered to understand the computational sciences. We had outreach materials from the Teragrid. So well put together, and such a hit with the educators.

All three of the sessions were a success. We did not have supertech people except one or two and we had about 50 people in the first workshop.


The second was the tour.My heart fell when I went to the bus, because at first I could not see it was full. We had a grand tour of TACC. I love the visualization images .

The University of Texas at Austin is one of the nation’s leading universities, an academic institution of enormous breadth and depth, with 50,000 students and 3,000 faculty. It’s an economic powerhouse that pumps more than $8.2 billion into the Texas economy each year. It ranks fifth in the world for academic citations and is the recipient of more than 400 patents. Seven of its doctoral programs rank among the top 10 in the nation.

The University of Texas’ intellectual firepower extends far beyond its classrooms and labs. In addition to ongoing research in 18 colleges and schools, the university sponsors 100 separate research units and 10 organized research units, such as the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC).

TACC plays a pivotal role in the new culture of computational science at The University of Texas at Austin and is central to UT’s success as a major public research university. TACC boasts world-class resources and expertise that enable scientists and researchers to find solutions to the biggest problems facing science and society. From climate change to medical research to energy resources, traditional and renewable, advanced computing provides the tools that are critical to discovery in science and across disciplines. Faith Singer-Villalobos lead the presentation and discussion.

TACC’s education and outreach programs support their mission to enable discoveries that advance science and society through the application of advanced computing technologies. We all benefit from advanced computing in our everyday lives, from more accurate weather reports, to safer automobile designs, to smaller, lighter electronic gadgets.

TACC’s education & outreach programs introduce K-12, undergraduate and graduate students to the power of advanced computing for science, technology, computer science, engineering, and mathematics. It believes that the students are the next generation of Einsteins, Curies, and Hawkings, who will someday make breakthrough discoveries that we can’t even imagine today.

We wanted to touch the future through sharing with the teachers what the university and supercomputing had to offer.

Teachers touch the future.

Our last presentation was to identify the real 21st Century Literaraies.  about data visualization, and computational thinking, data mining and global collaborations. We were able to share partnership organizations to teachers for field experiences, National Geographic, Earthwatch, NASA , NOAA but most importantly to show ans share curriculum opportunities that were free.

and Scalable Game Design

Meanwhile San Diego is doing outreach of this kind.

Upcoming Computer Science Courses for High School and Undergraduate Students

Introduction to C++ Programming
Mondays, January 10 – March 14, 2011– 4:30pm- 6:30pm (weekly)

This class  introduces programming concepts to students, with no previous programming experience required, and will focus on learning to read and write programs in C++. The class will focus on in-class programming and participation. The course will move quickly and students are required to have access to a computer at home. The course will cover IDEs, programming basics, compilation, execution, flow control, functions, arrays, pointers, file I/O, structures and classes. Weekly homework assignments solidify understanding in preparation for a comprehensive final project.

Introduction to Programming in Python ( this already started)
Tuesdays, January 11 – March 15, 2011– 4:30pm- 6:30pm (weekly)

This course offers an introduction to computer programming via the Python programming language. Students listen to weekly explanation-demonstrations of and gain simultaneous practical experience with basic coding concepts such as calculations, string formatting/manipulation, conditional statements, iteration, file i/o, and the abstraction of functions, as well as programming style. Weekly homework assignments solidify understanding, and a final project offers the opportunity to creatively deploy the class materials. This course is designed to prepare students for the class’s final project, the creation of a computer program that generates a poem.

In our network we can identify lots of opportunities for K-12. Teragrid even features them in a booklet.

How much data is that? Check out the visual idea of it.