Teach the Teacher at SC22

written by Dhruva Chakravorty 

On November 12, 2022 at the Supercomputing 22 conference at Kay Bailey Hutchison Conference Center in Dallas, Texas, HPRC, in partnership with Edward J Evans, Associate Vice President for Enterprise IT Operations at Texas A&M University, conducted a teacher hands-on symposium. Sixteen teachers registered for the event. These teachers represented career and technical education, computer science, technology applications, health science, and business technology from middle schools and high schools in Texas. There were eleven attendees.

Level of ExpertiseData SciencePythonCybersecurity
Table 1. Level of Expertise of Registrants

The Course material was provided using Google Classroom with Google Colab integration for hands-on activities and assignments. Basic principles of cybersecurity and data science were discussed. Introductory Python fundamentals included: Variables, Conditionals, Arrays, Dictionaries, and Loops and their application to cybersecurity and data science. The Google classroom course material was shared with the attendees, allowing them to use and adapt the material in their classrooms.

Course Instructors were Richard Lawrence and Zhenhua He. Zhenhua is an Assistant Research Scientist at Texas A&M High Performance Research Computing. He holds a Master of Science degree in Computer Science and a Ph.D. degree in Geoscience. His expertise lies in machine learning, deep learning, how to apply different machine learning frameworks on large-scale cyberinfrastructure, and numerical modeling. He has taught in several cybersecurity and data science camps held by Texas A&M High Performance Research Computing in 2021 and 2022.

Richard Lawrence attended the University of California, Davis, and Texas A&M University to obtain his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Physics. Richard is currently a User Support Specialist in the High Performance Research Computing group at Texas A&M University, while pursuing his Ph.D. in Physics. He has two years of experience teaching Python coding to primary school students at the TAMU HPRC Summer Computing Academy, as well as several years of teaching Python to undergraduate and graduate students in various informal settings.

Feedback from teachers was very positive. We asked how useful they thought each of the activities were for them. The highest was Cryptography (100%), with 86% for each of Introduction to Data Science and the Google Artificial Intelligence activity. We asked them what ideas they had gained for use in their classrooms. They wanted to create or find datasets using topics of interest to students to use for data analysis. They were also interested in applying what they learned to project-based learning activities.

At the end of the workshop, six teachers completed the paperwork to earn a certificate for the seven-hour training from the IEEE Computer Society. For the IEEE course evaluation, they scored all seven items at 4 or 5, on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest rating. They noted the most helpful topics were the content knowledge and the discussion about extension activities to provide students with more rigorous coursework. Here are some responses from the question, “What one topic from this course did you find most helpful to your job and why?”

● AI because it will help me to create PBL projects for my class.

● The overview of Python. It reinforced that our program needs to focus on Python as its main language.

● I needed a better understanding of these topics as far as specific applications and tasks.

● Computer Lang. It went into depth on a topic that I currently teach.

● Learning Python because it showed many capabilities for its use.

● Discussing possible extension activities to provide students with more rigorous coursework.

This experience was valuable to us because we learned that Texas technology and computer science teachers in middle school and high school want interesting data sets to use, course suggestions, and even lesson plans they can implement in their classrooms. They are interested in ways to teach effectively and to teach topics that will benefit their students in the future.