New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

Learning Experiences for the GUTS component

The learning experiences offered at our Summer Teacher Institute include:

  1. Introduction to our pedagogy, definition and use of scientific inquiry, online tools and website. Discussion of "what is a model?", "what do models teach us?", and "how do we evaluate models?"
  2. Direct instruction in learning characteristics of complex systems accompanied by a variety of examples.
  3. Immersion in Participatory Simulations and PDA games that demonstrate aspects of complex systems.
  4. Manipulating computer models of complex systems, learning to run experiments, collect data.
  5. Learning paradigm of implementing agent based model (interaction diagram).
  6. Reviewing the mathematics underlying our models and data analysis: functions and graphs, linear vs. non-linear, probability and statistics, distributions, random numbers, discrete vs. continuous systems, curve fitting and network analysis (power laws, scale-free, etc.)
  7. Examining the mechanisms underlying our models and computer programs: variables, loops, procedures, control structures, Booleans, expressions, as well as parameter sweeps, verification and validation of models.
  8. Walk-through of a Project GUTS curricular unit that we will use next year. Participants will be introduced to an interdisciplinary topic/phenomenon and experience each activity/investigation within the unit: a hands-on activity and game, an online applet, and a computational and a mathematical model of the phenomenon. Throughout, the mathematics involved will be made explicit and data analysis methods will be used to compare the outcome of simulations. In each unit, participants will be asked to identify the characteristics of complex systems found in the example, construct an interaction diagram of the elements of the model, create a word wall and concept maps, and use our online tools, pre-post assessment using concept maps, and blogging.
  9. Learning to design, implement, and run experiments on models of complex systems. Throughout the program, in addition to providing learning experiences that will extend teachers' understanding of science and math content, we aim to develop teachers' scientific inquiry and math process skills. We integrate activities that encourage divergent thinking and creative problem solving, we engage teachers in technology-mediated scientific inquiry games, and we have the teachers participate in first-person simulations of complex systems. Other important topics we cover include gender equity, strategies for increasing participation of women and underrepresented groups in STEM career paths, computer ethics, and ethics in technical writing (i.e. defining plagiarism).

For questions about the Supercomputing Challenge, a 501(c)3 organization, contact us at: consult @