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Area Students to Present Research Projects at Conclusion of UTSI Computational Course

Fifteen area high school students and three Franklin County teachers are learning technologies, techniques, and tools of computational science during a two-week session at The University of Tennessee Space Institute.

The two-week workshop, taught by scientists from the Shodor Center for Computational Science Education in Durham, N.C. opened July 24 and will conclude Aug. 4 with a special presentation by the participants.

“Students are developing a small computational research project of their own choosing,” said Robert Gotwals, senior computational science educator with Sodor. “Presentations will be made at a research colloquium at 2 p.m. Aug. 4 in the UTSI auditorium. The public is invited.”

Computational science is the area of scientific research that merges science, mathematics, and computing to produce computer models and simulations that allow users to study complex and challenging scientific behavior.

In the workshop, students are learning how to use models, modify existing models, and create models from scratch, Gotwals said. Topics being studied include computational astrophysics, meteorology, agriculture, genomics, epidemiology, pharmacokinetics, and drug design and quantum chemistry.

Students have an opportunity to write their own computer programs, using languages such as gnuplot, perl, and NetLogo.

Bill Hofmeister, director of the Center for Laser Applications at UTSI, and Alan Clark, member of the Franklin County School Board, organized the workshop.

Funding for the project was provided by the Center for Laser Applications and the Jacobs Engineering Group.

Teachers taking part in the workshop are Ellen Jackson and Stacy Brown from Franklin County North, and JoLynn Schultz from Huntland High School.

The students, rising ninth and tenth-graders and the schools they will attend are Brittany Kriz, Ryan Qualls, Justice Wenzlick, and Chris Yockey, Coffee County Central High, Manchester; Tommy Forest, Huntland High School; Troy Allison, Callie Dixon, Chloe Davenport, Katherine McConnell, Benjamin Fults, G. Chandler Hodges, Mercedes Tiedemann, Kelsey Sutton, and Shelby Stewart, and Rebecca Hofmeister, Martin Luther King magnet school, Nashville.