Round 1: The first round of the #SciFund Challenge took place back in 2011, and STEMulate Learning sought support for a high-performance computing (supercomputing) lab to demonstrate the capability of combining multiple PC-class machines to perform advanced computing efforts.
The combined support from round #1’s sole project was $122 USD, which provided funding for components that were combined with donated equipment to create a multi-core compute node.
This node was configured to support the humanitarian projects as a member of the World Community Grid, addressing global problems such as the search for clean water resources, clean energy producing materials, as well as medications to deal with diseases and parasitic infections like malaria, leishmaniasis, and cancer. Participation in this effort has allowed instruction of students into subjects like:
- Stewardship of natural resources
- Global migration patterns
- Common biological antagonists
- High-performance computing
- Group participation in widescale crisis situations
By tweeting successes and contributions of the node’s CPU power towards the various projects supported by the World Community Grid, educators and students can follow our successes every week. This has led to a host of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) focused studies around individual issues like sanitation, water purification, and distributed computing.
Since going online in January of 2012, the multi-core node has provided more than 14 years of combined CPU power by October of 2012 – almost 17 times the computing power represented by a single computer operating for the same amount of time. This is a tremendously useful tool for instruction in high-performance computing, parallel processing, and a range of other highly useful topics for instruction. Even maintenance on the hardware itself has provided a number of lessons for rising junior high and high-school students who will soon be entering the workforce with documented experience in computer hardware maintenance.
Round 1 of the #SciFund Challenge continues to inspire and facilitate the education of young learners every week. I will discuss Round 2’s projects in the next few days and Round 3 is coming up soon!