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The Berkeley Lab IT Division hosts 2nd graders from Sylvia Mendez Elementary School each year to teach them about computer hardware, programming and networking. May of 2018 marked our 9th year of our computer outreach program and our commitment to teach our young students the fundamentals of technology.
Over 75 students, teachers, parents and chaperones attended our two-day program which focused on computer hardware, parallel computing, programming, and networking. IT teachers, Carlos Lopez and Tammy Campbell, taught students how to build a computer (raspberry pi), boot it, login and navigate in the computing environment. David Jacobowitz explained how you can use several lower powered computers to work in parallel to solve a bigger problem –– part of a new addition to our curriculum on parallel computing. David also built a cluster of raspberry pis and demonstrated the representation of fractals. Anita Newkirk walked the students through software and programming using iPads and by using several applications, students learned the fundamentals of programming including repeats and loops. Nat Stoddard provided a general overview of networking and had the students carry packets from a source location to a "router" (a black light box where the invisible symbol on the envelope displays a symbol) then to the destination location (table designated by a symbol).
We received positive comments from our parent survey, such as "thanks for all the efforts. I think it's great for the kids to get all this exposure to computers and programming" and "thanks for introducing our public schools to all of these concepts and resources!!"
Additional volunteers who helped make our program a success included: Arwa Ali, Karen Yamamoto, Wendy Avalos, Nina Lucido, and Erin Scharfstein.
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