Role of high performance computing in education - Thom Harold Dunning Jr.

Scientific and engineering research has been revolutionized by computing—computer simulations provides insights and predictions unobtainable in the laboratory, computer analysis reveals unrecognized connections in collections of data, and computers control today’s most sophisticated experiments. Opportunities abound for revolutionizing teaching and learning with computing technologies. Today, however, computing has been used largely as a means to organize (e.g., Blackboard), prepare for (e.g. PowerPoint) and disseminate (e.g.,MOOCs) courses. The potential of using computing to teach students the fundamental principles of a subject through authentic computational simulation is largely unexplored.
For the past several years we have been using computational tools and simulations to help teach high school and college chemistry. We have found that the use of computational tools and simulations allows students to gain a deep and rich appreciation for the basic principles of chemistry. Further, we have found that the use of computational tools in the chemistry classroom:
— Is enthusiastically embraced by teachers and students
— Results in improved performance of both teachers and students on standard chemistry tests.
— Leads to increased student interest in chemistry.
It is time for the computing community to work with their colleagues in science and engineering to explore the use of authentic computational tools and simulations in the classroom and to develop the interfaces needed to make the tools accessible to students from middle school to graduate school.This presentation will cover the experiences that we have had using computational tools and simulations in the chemistry classroom in high schools in Illinois as well as in undergraduate organic chemistry courses at the University of Illinois.