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SDSC Education Department Efforts Recognized in SIGKids Awards

Published 08/08/2003

An algebra tutorial designed by a San Diego high school student and a mathematical game created by a 4th grade math teacher in San Diego were among five projects assisted or developed by the Educational Technology Laboratory at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) that won awards at the 11th annual "SIGKids" competition. The recognition was made as part of SIGGRAPH, the annual national graphics convention, which was held July 27-31 at the San Diego Convention Center and attended by about 25,000 registrants. The juried SIGKids competition was designed to recognize computer visualization projects that promote the development of multisensory interactions, multilingual formats, lifetime learning, and interdisciplinary approaches.

Alan Luu, an 11th grader at the Preuss School UCSD, a middle/high school on the UC San Diego campus, won a $50 honorable mention award for his interactive tutorial designed to teach students how to solve basic algebraic equations. John Barta, a math specialist at Balboa Elementary School, won a $100 award of merit for creating a game called "Bowling with Numbers." The Web-based game generates sets of three random numbers, which students then use in mathematical expressions they write themselves. Correct answers are rewarded by pins being knocked down in a bowling game when students' hit a "Knock 'em Down!" button to check their answers. (Two Preuss School UCSD students, Elvira Gonzalez and Marcos Leon, translated the English version of the game into Spanish.)

SIGKids 2003 award-winners involving SDSC education and visualization projects include:

  • Computer Math Quiz, $50, Honorable Mention . In this interactive Web-based tutorial by Preuss School UCSD junior Alan Lu, students learn how to solve basic algebraic equations. Lu's entry was his class project in a multimedia course taught at Preuss by Anne Bowen and Jason Wiskerchen, programmer analysts in the SDSC Educational Technology Laboratory.

  • Bowling with Numbers, $100, Award of Merit . This bilingual math game designed by John Barta teaches elementary students about order of operations. The game was developed with the assistance of Bowen. Barta designed it at SDSC during last year's TeacherTECH, a two-week summer training program offered by the SDSC Education Department to teach teachers how use software tools and computing technology in their classrooms.

  • EnVision Explore Engage (E3): Computational Science, $250, Special Award of Merit. Computational Science is one of four modules in the E3 educational series, a K-12 curriculum development project that includes multi-media activities and instructional materials. E3 is designed to bring the research of the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI) to the K-12 audience. Wiskerchen, Bowen, Apryl Bailey, Zack Schumann, and Jon C. Meyer, all members and participants of the SDSC Educational Technology Laboratory, collaborated to produce the Computational Science module.

  • Colonia 10 de Mayo: A Community Collaborative, $500, Best Spanish-Language Entry. In partnership with the SDSC Education Department, Wiskerchen and Cindy Santini, Web developers with the Regional Workbench Consortium at UCSD, developed interactive Web-based narratives that address interlocking problems of environmental protection and economic development in the San Diego-Tijuana crossborder city-region. The narratives consist of video and motion-graphic presentations with audio and voice narration, close captioning, and links to related topics.

  • Chemystery, $500, Best Wide Age Appeal . This playful, educational production based on a "Guess what this molecule is?" approach to teaching chemistry, was produced by Teresa Larsen of the Foundation for Scientific Literacy in La Jolla, CA, David Goodsell of The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, and Meyer, a producer in the Scientific Visualization Group at SDSC.

"These awards show the excellence of both the training and educational programs at the Supercomputer Center," said Rozeanne Stecker, director of the SDSC Education Department. "In the case of John Barta's award for his TeacherTECH project, it shows that in a two-week course we can give skills to teachers who otherwise know very little about information technology, and these skills can enable them to develop an award-winning piece of curriculum."

In his experience as a math specialist for elementary students, Barta had encountered several children who learned with great difficulty. He also observed that nontraditional techniques often engaged the same students and facilitated their learning. "John felt that 'alternate learners' would love the material he was trying to present if it could be offered in an interactive way," said Steckler. "And he was right."

The Colonia 10 de Mayo project met one of the SIGKids competition's key goals of actively sharing of information and technology with others involved in socially progressive uses of advanced information systems. "It's not your typical video presentation, because it has the ability to link to our database to perform searches in the middle of the presentation on such topics as data on toxic wastes in the community," said Wiskerchen. "It also reaches a broader audience than most educational presentations by providing close-captioning and language selection."