For release August 8, 2006


Fifteen area rising high school students were presented “challenging and difficult materials” during a two-week computational workshop, and their leader said he never once heard “I can’t” or “I won’t.”

On Aug. 4, parents and other visitors gathered at The University of Tennessee Space Institute to hear the students and three participating teachers report on their chosen research projects.

Robert Gotwals, leader of the workshop, said the first week was spent in introducing the participants “to how computers are used in modern science to solve interesting problems.” During the second week, the students chose individual research projects and explained them at the “colloquium.”

Gotwals is senior computational science educator with the Shodor Center for Computational Science Education in Durham, N.C., which offers the enriched training.

This workshop was sponsored by Dr. Bill Hofmeister, director of UTSI’s Center for Laser Applications, and Dr. Alan Clark, member of the Franklin County School Board. Another member of the Franklin board, Wendy Moore, and Franklin County School Supt. Charles H. Edmonds also were present for the presentations by students and teachers.

Three teachers – JoLynn Schultz from Huntland High and Stacy Brown and Ellen Jackson, both from Franklin County North – also attended all sessions and gave oral reports on the final day. They spoke enviously of the young people’s superior grasp of computers and mathematical equations. The teachers said they themselves will share much that they learned with other students.

Research projects ranged from astronomy (programming and tools for studying the planets) presented by Ryan Qualls and Chris Yockey from Coffee County’s Central High School to Franklin County High’s Troy Allison and Chandler Hodges’ report on air pollution.

Callie Dixon, who is entering FCHS from South Middle School, and Becca Hofmeister from Nashville, reported on their study of Phylogenetic trees. Their project dealt with graphing comparison of different organisms and their DNA make-up. Becca attends Martin Luther King magnet school.

Mercedes Tiedemann (FCHS) and Kelsey Sutton (Webb School), both of Franklin County, reported on Tsunamis and the earthquakes that cause them, and Ben Fults of FCHS, explained “track warrants” and proposed various safety practices for trains. A report by Justice Wenzlick, CHS, and Shelby Stewart, FCHS, dealt with automotive engines while Katherine McConnell of FCHS focused on similarities and differences in human DNA and that of chimpanzees.

CHS’s Brittany Kriz, joined Chloe Davenport, FCHS, and Huntland’s Tommy Forrest in discussing effectiveness of drugs.

Bob Gotwals stands with four students from Coffee County Central High School who participated in a UTSI workshop. From left are Brittany Kriz, Justice Wenzlick, Ryan Qualls, and Chris Yockey.

Dr. Bill Hofmeister joins Bob Gotwals, and Franklin County teachers
and students at UTSI’s Computational Workshop. From left, front, are
Gotwals, Katherine McConnell, Chloe Davenport, Kelsey Sutton, and
Mercedes Tiedemann; middle row, Ellen Jackson, JoLynn Schultz,
Stacy Brown, teachers, and Ben Fults; back row, Hofmeister, Tommy
Forrest, Troy Allison, Shelby Stewart, Chandler Hodges, and Callie
Dixon. Becca Hofmeister from Nashville also participated.

Troy Allison of FCHS reports on research into air pollution.

Dr. Bill Hofmeister, director of UTSI’s laser center, and Workshop leader Bob Gotwals, left, join 18 participants after they presented reports on their research projects.

— UTSI Photos