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The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
  • 2018-01-17 12:05:14
  • Article ID: 688054

Fermilab Computing Partners with Argonne, Local Schools for Hour of Code

  • Credit: Photo: Stephanie Comes

    Burt Holzman is one of 14 Fermilab employees who visited local schools for Hour of Code in December. Holzman visited second- through fifth-grade classrooms at Wolf’s Crossing Elementary School in Aurora.

With information technology integrated into so many aspects of our lives, having some computer science skills will be essential for the future workforce. However, less than half of all schools teach computer science. Furthermore, while 71 percent of STEM jobs are currently in computer science, only 8 percent of STEM graduates study computer science. These gaps are concerning, but there are efforts under way to close them.

Hour of Code is a worldwide movement designed to demystify code, to show that anybody can learn the basics and to broaden participation in computer science and other technical fields. Over 400 partners and 200,000 educators globally currently support the movement.

As part of Computer Science Education Week on Dec. 4-10, Fermilab partnered with Argonne National Laboratory on an initiative to bring Hour of Code activities and coding role models to local schools. Fourteen employees from Fermilab, along with several from various Argonne organizations, visited area elementary, middle and high schools and spoke about their labs, their careers and coding in general. They also assisted students with coding exercises.

This is the second year Penelope Constanta, application developer and system analyst, participated in Hour of Code. Over the course of one day, Constanta visited 13 classrooms at Oswego’s Fox Chase Elementary School, from first grade to fifth grade, with varying levels of coding experience. She explained to the children who had never coded what a computing program is, and for those who had, she helped with the coding tasks that they were asked to do.

“I did love the kids’ reactions when I asked them to ‘program me’ to move to a location in the classroom or do some simple task,” Constanta said. “At all levels, they were able to grasp the simple concepts that I introduced.” For all but two of the classes she attended, this was the first time these kids had heard about programming.

Scientist Adam Lyon spent a morning at Thomas Jefferson Junior High School in Woodridge.

“It was a lot of fun, and the teachers and kids were great,” he said. “The Minecraft and Flappy Bird projects were by far the most popular, though several kids told me that Minecraft is so 2015.”

Application developer and system analyst Kris Brandt attended both introductory and AP computer science classes at St. Charles East High School, where the students are already coding, so she didn’t need to introduce the concept of coding.

“Instead, my talk focused on scientific versus core computing at Fermilab and computing careers in general,” Brandt said. “They were also curious and impressed by some of the stats from ‘Computing by the Numbers,’ especially the amount of data we manage and the cybersecurity stats. Quantum computing was also a hot topic. They were a very curious and smart group of kids, which made the experience fun.”

Fermilab Chief Information Officer Rob Roser highlighted Fermilab Computing’s positive impact in the community.

“I am very proud of the enthusiastic participation from all branches of Computing in this important outreach event,” Roser said.  “Reaching out through the schools and showing these kids that coding is both fun and accessible to them and that the end result can change the world is very powerful.”

 

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Columbia Researchers Squeeze Light into Nanoscale Devices and Circuits

Columbia investigators have made a major breakthrough in nanophotonics research, with their invention of a novel "home-built" cryogenic near-field optical microscope that has enabled them to directly image, for the first time, the propagation and dynamics of graphene plasmons at variable temperatures down to negative 250 degrees Celsius. If researchers can harness this nanolight, they will be able to improve sensing, subwavelength waveguiding, and optical transmission of signals.

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A cross-campus collaboration led by Ulrich Wiesner, professor of engineering at Cornell University, has resulted in a novel energy storage device architecture that has the potential for lightning-quick charges for electronic devices.

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Scientists added an imaging capability to Brookhaven Lab's Center for Functional Nanomaterials that could provide the optoelectronic information needed to improve the performance of devices for power generation, communications, data storage, and lighting.

Diamond 'Spin-Off' Tech Could Lead to Low-Cost Medical Imaging and Drug Discovery Tools

An international team led by scientists at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley discovered how to exploit defects in nanoscale and microscale diamonds and potentially enhance the sensitivity of magnetic resonance imaging and nuclear magnetic resonance systems while eliminating the need for their costly and bulky superconducting magnets.

PROSPECTing For Antineutrinos

The Precision Reactor Oscillation and Spectrum Experiment (PROSPECT) has completed installation of a novel antineutrino detector that will probe the possible existence of a new form of matter - sterile neutrinos.

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MicroBooNE neutrino experiment cuts through the noise, clearing the way for signals made by the hard-to-detect particle.

Supersonic Waves May Help Electronics Beat the Heat

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory made the first observations of waves of atomic rearrangements, known as phasons, propagating supersonically through a vibrating crystal lattice--a discovery that may dramatically improve heat transport in insulators and enable new strategies for heat management in future electronics devices.

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Jet fuel, pantyhose and plastic soda bottles are all products currently derived from petroleum. Sandia National Laboratories scientists have demonstrated a new technology based on bioengineered bacteria that makes it feasible to produce all three from renewable plant sources.

Flexible, Highly Efficient Multimodal Energy Harvesting

A piezoelectric ceramic foam supported by a flexible polymer support provides a 10-fold increase in the ability to harvest mechanical and thermal energy over standard piezo composites, according to Penn State researchers.


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Power to the People

The University of Utah College of Engineering has received a $2 million grant to create a laboratory and develop new technology for communities with backup power sources, known as microgrids, so they can quickly and more securely operate in the event of a massive power outage due to a natural disaster or cyberattack.

The U. S. Department of Energy Announces $34 Million for Small Business Research and Development Grants

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced that the Department of Energy will award 219 grants totaling $34 million to 183 small businesses in 41 states. Funded through DOE's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, today's selections are for Phase I research and development.

Raising the Heat to Lower the Cost of Solar Energy

Sandia National Laboratories will receive $10.5 million from the Department of Energy to research and design a cheaper and more efficient solar energy system.The work focuses on refining a specific type of utility-scale solar energy technology that uses mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a receiver on a tower.

Solar Turbines, Inc. Selects Penn State to Establish Center of Excellence in Gas Turbines

After completing an extensive evaluation of institutions of higher learning in the United States and Europe, Solar Turbines Incorporated has chosen Penn State as a university partner to establish a center of excellence in gas turbines. The center involves numerous faculty across Penn State's College of Engineering.

ORNL Facility Receives American Nuclear Society's Historic Landmark Designation

The American Nuclear Society has designated the Radiochemical Engineering Development Center at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory an ANS Nuclear Historic Landmark, recognizing more than 50 years of isotope production and nuclear fuel cycle research.

Steven Cowley named director of DOE's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Steven Cowley, a theoretical physicist and international authority on fusion energy, has been named director of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), effective July 1.

Scientists Turn X-ray Laser Into World's Fastest Water Heater

Scientists have used a powerful X-ray laser at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to heat water from room temperature to 100,000 degrees Celsius in less than a tenth of a picosecond, or millionth of a millionth of a second.

PNNL Part of a New National Center for Near-Atomic Resolution of Biological Molecules

A collaboration between the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Oregon Health & Science University has been chosen as a national center for a Nobel Prize-winning method of imaging, cryo-electron microscopy, that is revolutionizing structural biology.

SLAC Will Open One of Three NIH National Service Centers for Cryo-Electron Microscopy

The National Institutes of Health announced today that it will establish a national service and training center for cryogenic electron microscopy research at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Planck Collaboration Wins 2018 Gruber Cosmology Prize

The Planck Team--including researchers in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's (Berkeley Lab's) Computational Research and Physics divisions--have been awarded the 2018 Gruber Cosmology Prize.


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The Secret to Measuring an Antineutrino's Energy

Scientists are developing better models that describe both neutrino and antineutrino data, which can offer insights into the nature of the universe.

How to Cope with Cases of Mistaken Identity: MINERvA's Tale of Pions and Neutrinos

Neutral pion production is a major character in a story of mistaken identity worthy of an Agatha Christie novel.

Perfecting the Noise-Canceling Neutrino Detector

MicroBooNE neutrino experiment cuts through the noise, clearing the way for signals made by the hard-to-detect particle.

Keeping Tabs on Polysulfides in Batteries

Optimizing lithium-sulfur battery electrolytes for long life.

Huge "Thermometer" Takes Temperatures of Tiny Samples

New spectroscopic technique measures heat in itty-bitty volumes that could reveal insights for electronics and energy technology.

Water, Water, Everywhere, but How Does It Flow?

Scientists use new X-ray technique to see how water moves at the molecular level.

Magnetized Plasmas That "Twist Light" Can Produce Powerful Microscopes and More

A non-twisting laser beam moving through magnetized plasma turns into an optical vortex that traps, rotates, and controls microscopic particles, opening new frontiers in imaging.

Whistling While You Work: Fusion Scientists Find Inspiration in Atmospheric Whistles

Just like lightning, fusion plasmas contain odd electromagnetic whistler waves that could control destructive electrons in fusion reactors.

Zero Tolerance in Tokamaks: Eliminating Small Instabilities Before They Become Disruptions

Energetic ions and beam heating cause or calm instabilities, depending on the tokamak's magnetic field.

MURR Becomes First Reactor Facility to Join DOE's Isotope Program

DOE and MURR partner to ensure scientists have access to essential research isotopes.


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