[Beowulf] about clusters in high schools

H.Vidal, Jr. hvidal at tesseract-tech.com
Mon Jan 30 16:50:39 PST 2006

Jim Lux wrote:
> At 03:27 PM 1/30/2006, H.Vidal, Jr. wrote:

>> The emphasis on Graduate students is presumably applicable for college
>> age students. And the emphasis on athletic events is nearly universal
>> (plus kids really do need the break, it seems).
> Actually, I was using graduate as a verb.. the objective is to get 
> students out the door at the other end. Pass the exit exam, get them 
> accepted to college, what have you.
>> Well, what I would ideally like is to institutionalize HPC for this 
>> school.
>> That's really more core goal.
>> And so it will have life after my son's tenure here.
> And that is a noble goal.  Hopefully, all this discussion has prompted 
> some ideas on how to get there?

Yes, indeed. I have found some excellent references here.
And some excellent perspectives on the problem at large,
that is, technical education (tech meaning science/math bent)
in high schools.

>>> There was an excellent article in "The American Scholar" 
>>> (http://www.pbk.org/pubs/amscholar.htm) a few years back about how 
>>> industry has hoodwinked the public school system (including at the 
>>> collegiate level) into providing free training for their software.
>> Do I take it (could not get article) that this implies free education
>> in particular commercial applications conditions students to respond
>> to these applications as the 'one true way' instead of being open
>> minded to other technical options?
> No, the article was more along the lines that schools spend precious 
> class hours doing what is essentially user training for a single 
> application, rather than generic skills.  The thrust was (this IS Phi 
> Beta Kappa, after all) that society would be better served by spending 
> tax dollars to give students a good liberal arts education, and let the 
> employers pay for training people to use a particular software package.  
> I'll try and find the exact reference (oddly<grin>, the JPL library 
> doesn't have it, and I probably threw the issue away a few years ago)

Oh. Yes, this is the common case, but you must have noted that
when many people ask 'do you know/do computers?' they
really mean 'do you know how to use X/Y/Z platform?'

Most non-technical people (and a large number of tech as well, sadly)
do not distinguish between 'machine theory' in the larger sense and
'being able to type/save/load files' in the near-term applied sense.

This has led me to many conversations like this:

'So, Nando, you do computers?'

'No, not really.........'

Because most people assume that 'do computers' means Windows
or 'selling PCs' or 'Excel and Word.' If you tell them you think
about distributed knowledge representation, or how to parcel
computations, or about the intrinsic limits of digital vs. analog
representation, you get these great stares.....

>> Again, this may generally be the case, but if one has the fortune of 
>> being
>> at a great school, then it's time to build opportunities. So this is not
>> an average school, but it can be made better with a bit of 
>> participation by
>> interested parents.....
> Indeed.. and I'd say that most schools benefit by interested parents.  
> All to the better if they are math/science oriented, and if a sustaining 
> program can be created.  It does happen.  It would be interesting to 
> look at other successful programs and see what their origins were.  
> Athletic boosters have been around a long time, so that's not a good 
> model, but perhaps a theater arts or music program that came into 
> being?  Or even Science Fairs (which are out of fashion, these days).

Well, as I have noted to exhaustion, I consider our family to be *very*
lucky to be associated with a high school that places more emphasis
on its math team than on its cheerleading team.

Thanks for your comments.


> James Lux, P.E.
> Spacecraft Radio Frequency Subsystems Group
> Flight Communications Systems Section
> Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mail Stop 161-213
> 4800 Oak Grove Drive
> Pasadena CA 91109
> tel: (818)354-2075
> fax: (818)393-6875
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