Workshop: Creating a Relevant, Application-Based Curriculum for High Performance Computing in High School
Abstract: While strides have been made to improve science and math readiness at a college-preparatory level, some key fundamentals have been left unaddressed that can cause students to turn away from the STEM disciplines before they find their niche. Introducing collegiate level research and project-based, group-centered learning at a high school level has a multi-faceted effect; in addition to elevated learning outcomes in science and math, students exhibit improved critical thinking and communication skills, leading to improved preparedness for subsequent academic endeavors. The work presented here outlines the development of a STEM ecosystem where both the science department and math department have implemented an interdisciplinary approach to introduce a spectrum of laboratory and computing research skills. This takes the form of both "in situ," micro-curricular elements and stand-alone research and computer science classes which integrate the language-independent concepts of abstraction and object-oriented programming, distributed and high-performance computing, and high and low level language control applications. This pipeline has been an effective tool that has allowed several driven and interested students to participated in collegiate-level and joint-collegiate projects involving virtual reality, robotics and systems controls, and modeling. The willingness of the departments to cross-pollinate, hire faculty well-versed in research, and support students and faculty with the proper resources are critical factors in readying the next generation of computing leaders.