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Argonne Employees Help Chicago Schools Celebrate Global Hour of Code

Newswise — It was a Friday, but the fourth graders at Prairieview Elementary School in Downers Grove, Illinois, were all sitting attentively as they listened to a speaker from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Argonne National Laboratory. Energy (DOE): Brian Sebby, a systems manager. engineer who maintains Argonne’s computer servers. Sebby had already spoken to the school’s third and fifth grade classes earlier in the morning, but he remained eager to talk to students about how Argonne needs students like them – even though many were just beginning to learn coding – for the next generation. computer science.

“I’m excited for all of you, because you’re going to help us design the next generation of computers,” Sebby told them. “Try to think about what you’ll have (for computers) in 10, 20, 40 years: it’s going to be amazing.”

“Then a few weeks later, one of the parents and their daughter approached me. Since my interview, their daughter hasn’t stopped talking about it, saying she wants to become a scientist or an engineer. I was very happy to hear this. — Yasaman Ghadar, Argonne computer scientist

On the same day and week, other schools across the country and around the world had similar coding experiences: more than 58,000 volunteers, including 28 Argonne Computer Science Ambassadors, contributed to the Hour of Code 2023 worldwide. Together, Argonne staff have dedicated more than 100 hours to Hour of Code and reached more than 2,000 students in the Chicago area.

“Our Hour of Code challenge was a huge success and Brian’s visit was the perfect highlight of the week,” said Jake Little, Principal of Prairieview. “It was such a fun day and I appreciate Brian for sharing his passion for science with our students.”

Every December during Computer Science Education Week, computer scientists and experts from around the world visit schools for hour-long talks on coding and computer science. Each volunteer brings their background in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) as well as their perspective on how to teach coding.

Yasaman Ghadar, a computer science researcher at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), who spoke on supercomputers at Concord Elementary School in Darien, Illinois, thought about topics from the children’s perspective and what would interest them. For example, she compared the way students measure their height to the way scientists measure the power of computers. She wrote the speeds of the different computers on the board and showed how the number of zeros increased at the end as the computers advanced. Ghadar also interrupted his lectures with moments of reflection and understanding what the students were thinking. The ALCF, a DOE Office of Science user facility, hosts Aurora, a new exascale supercomputer that will be capable of performing more than a quintillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) calculations per second.

This was Ghadar’s first time volunteering for Hour of Code, but she managed to engage young people in otherwise complex STEM topics like supercomputers. The students even sent him a thank you booklet afterwards.

“It was all fascinating to them and they were asking key questions that showed they were really paying attention and learning. Their hands were still raised,” Ghadar said. “Then a few weeks later, one of the parents and their daughter approached me. Since my interview, their daughter hasn’t stopped talking about it, saying she wanted to become a scientist or an engineer. I was very happy to hear this.

2023 was Argonne’s ninth year participating in Hour of Code. Many volunteers have participated in previous years, and new participants like Ghadar plan to support Hour of Code in the years to come.

“As a woman working in STEM, I see the need to encourage diversity and I enjoy talking to students about what we are doing in science,” Ghadar said. “I want to tell them that you don’t have to be the smartest kid – you just have to be persistent and work for something you want, but you can achieve it and have fun.”

The Argonne Leadership IT Facility provides supercomputing capabilities to the scientific and engineering community to advance fundamental discovery and understanding across a wide range of disciplines. Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program, the ALCF is one of two DOE Leadership Computing Facilities in the nation dedicated to open science.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts cutting-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state, and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership, and prepare for the nation to a better future. With employees from more than 60 countries, Argonne is led by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the US Department of Energy Office of Science.

US Department of Energy Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and strives to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.

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