Grids, Clouds, Participatory Culture and Thinking Toward the Future.
Beginnings in Computational Science
How do we do that?
Bonnie Bracey Sutton
I am not a computer scientist, or a computer science teacher, but I
have been fascinated by the supercomputing field since I accidentally
stumbled into it, at the end of my classroom teaching career. I worry
about those teachers who have never gained facile use of technology and
who see the Internet and all things considered as an enemy or a
nuisance to be added to the do list. Ok folks, lots of people are still
in powerpoint mode.
At the time I learned about Supercomputing I knew a little through
demonstrations at OSTP . I thought I knew technology like the back of
my hand. I had worked for Vice President Gore, the Commerce Dept and
in advocacy with President Clinton on the National Information
Infrastructure Advisory Council. So I knew , was aware of lots of
technology, sometimes working at NIST, or with the various task forces.
I helped bring classrooms from analog to digital in many ways. I rode
around America on a 18 wheeler teaching about the Internet , fax
machines and resources to use on the Internet. My friends tease me
that my worries and tears helped to make the map to E Rate. I was very
concerned about the costs of connectivity. Now my concern is about
looking toward the future in the use of technology and not just
mouthing the same old 21st Century babble that we have been speaking
about since 1992 or before. How long is that train going to run?
I acknowledge the fact that there are many teachers who have not
learned a lot based on many variables of professional development, access
interest and administrative permission. I am hoping that there will be
sufficient input into the new educational technology plan so that they
can see the light.
Now we have technology that can leap the digital divide, the technical
divide, and the information divide, cultural divide. But technology is a moving target.
I don’t see much discussion about Supercomputing.
Don’t teachers who touch the future need to have information to
understand where we are going in technology? Norm Augustine thinks so.
I went to the Access Center in Arlington, near the NSF building and
found that I had no idea of the new ways in which technology was
emerging. Don Mitchell shared the ideas and resources with me. I was on
the GRID. I had never heard of it.
Moving On to Clouds
Not the Charlie Brown kind of clouds mind you!
I am thinking about the Cloud! I don’t know if teachers have heard of
it. I am excited about the possibility of a tool that will connect all
students to the Internet. With the roll out of broadband , and Open
Source resources we can change the world of education. If we infuse new
thinking into education we can create an emerging set of students ready for the workforce of
I want teachers to be better prepared to share content and knowledge
using a variety of methodologies and deep knowledge.
Here’s what I am organizing with help from my friends in Supercomputing
for the Porttland Conference.
Diane Baxter of San Diego Supercomputing Center and I have been working
together with Jo Oshiru of Oregon to craft a day
to share nuggets of Supercomputing with the teachers.
SC-09 Teacher Day
Saturday November 14, 2009
Location: Portland State University- Fariborz Maseeh College of
Engineering and Computer Science
Time: 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM
9:30 AM – Welcome
9:35 – 10:50 AM – Melanie Stegman: (1) Introduction to Immune Attack –
how to play, installation, learning objectives, general concepts, and
11:00 AM – 12:30 – Melanie Stegman: (2) How to use Immune Attack in
the Classroom (facilitated discussion)
12:30 – 1:15 PM – Lunch (provided for registered participants and
presenters by the SC-09 Education Committee
1:15 – 2:00 PM – Jeff Sale, San Diego Supercomputer Center – Data
Discovery in the Classroom (hands-on activity on laptops)
2:00 – 3:15 PM – Pallavi Ishwad, Pittsburg Supercomputer Center –
Exciting Education Programs from PSC for K-12 Teachers
3:15-3:30 PM – Break
3:30 – 4:15 PM – Brad Armosky, Texas Advanced Comp
uting Center – Computational Thinking in Context – Integrating computational
approaches into your STEM teaching and learning.
4:15 – 5:00 PM – Blair Baldwin, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
– OMSI’s Resources and Activities for Computational Science Education –
Local activities, programs, and resources for Portland Area teachers
5:00 – 5:30 PM – Evaluation, Discussion, and Distribution of take-home
Teachers are strongly encouraged to bring their laptops to be able to
participate in the hands-on activities.
Why not the attendance of teachers at the real supercomputing
conference for less than $500.00
Teachers who may want to go to the conference need to ante up $550.00
so you can bet that there won’t be a lot of teacher involvement.
Students on the other hand can attend for $100.00. We had 384
applications to the education program, but we were not able to fund
very many. Simulus help or support needed here. You think?
Supercomputing is a whole different arena. I would give you a
definition , but the definition changes with the technology.
Here is what wikipedia says about Supercomputing.
“A supercomputer is a computer that is at the frontline of current
processing capacity, particularly speed of calculation.”
But I know someone who is up to date and who can share this information
with you so that you understand it.
My friend, Henry Neeman, who patiently helps me to
share the information is great at explaning things. Sometimes we call
it” emerging technologies” so that the real titles don’t scare people
Face to Face or E-Learning?
Henry can teach using any method.Dr. Neeman can teach in lots of
e-learning styles. Once I took the Supercomputing course from him and
accessed it at the Access Grid Site in Arlington, but when that was no
longer available to me, not to worry, Henry Neeman has many ways to
teach a lesson. So you will know that he is a fun guy
take a look at his home page. http://hneeman.oscer.ou.edu/
The depth of his knowledge is not the first thing you learn about. He
has a way of hooking you to make you interested in a subject. Brutally
honest he is with his words. He is teacher friendly. He has small
children and so I know that he thinks about school. When I get
discouraged there he is and approachable.
Another friend Michael Nelson pushed me to go learn about the cloud. I
had no idea that I was already using it. Here is a bit of his article
The introduction of the World Wide Web in the early 1990’s
revolutionized communication and information sharing. But the Internet
revolution is just beginning. The next few years will define the next
generation of the Internet as it becomes a platform for computing with
“We are in a critical and exciting phase in computing development,”
said Michael Nelson, an Internet studies visiting professor at
Georgetown University,while speaking at the 2009 AAAS conference in Chicago.
“When the Web first came out, we had the core technologies and knew
what they could do, but really didn’t have a sense of all the ways they
would be used,” Nelson said. “Likewise today, we’re laying the
foundation for the cloud, with the grid as a prototype.”
Nelson defined three phases of computing. In the first phase, software
applications and data resided on the user’s local computer. The same
was true in phase two – the Web –but in addition, a browser allowed
access to data anywhere on the Web. In phase three – the cloud – data
and applications are hosted on remote machines available online, not
locally – a fundamental shift in the way computing is done.
Michael Nelson, Georgetown University
Nelson predicts that in the next five to ten years, more than 80
percent of all computing and data storage could be done in the cloud,
with more than 100 billion devices connected. He also expects the
amount of data flowing through the Internet to increase by a factor of
50 to 100.
If the cloud can be access using broadband and with a netbook help us
leap the tool divide, academic divide, solve the heavy backpack
problem, and provide open source with e resources
being better than textbooks in update and accuracy why not?
Books will still be available to those who want them as will more
expensive laptops and other tools , cell phones, cameras, video
devices.. but for many access is the real deal.
Like I said, in education we are so far behind that people showed
Some beautiful pictures of kids working using visualization and
modeling at the FCC hearing without even knowing what it is or why they
can only do it in the summer. The need for broadband
and the infusion of the ways in which we daily use supercomputing might
help us all.
Near Portland , yall come!!