STEM Literacy Through Computational Simulation

Thomas Dunning Jr., Edee Wiziecki, Rebecca Canty, Brett Block
Just as computational simulation has revolutionized scientific and engineering research, it has the potential to revolutionize STEM education. The NSF-funded ICLCS at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a five-year study to engage high school teachers and their students in using computational simulation for science learning and inquiry. The project has been shown to increase teacher content knowledge and student success, and has also eliminated teacher isolation via a virtual professional.

About the Presenters:
Thom Dunning, Jr., Professor and Director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Thom Dunning, Jr. is the director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, as well as a professor and Distinguished Chair for Research Excellence in Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is currently working on the creation of a national cyberinfrastructure to support research and education in science and engineering, with a focus on high performance computing, and is using modern theoretical concepts and computational simulations to enhance the teaching of chemistry from high school to the undergraduate classroom. Dunning was a post-doctoral fellow at both the California Institute of Technology and Battelle Memorial Institute. He then took a position at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the Laser Theory Group and then in the Physical Chemistry Group. Dunning was appointed group leader of the Theoretical and Computational Chemistry Group at Argonne National Laboratory in 1978. Beginning in 1989, Dunning held many positions at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, becoming director of the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory in 1994 and the first Battelle Fellow in 1997. He spent two years (1999–2001) in the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy as assistant director for scientific simulation, where he was responsible for developing a new scientific computing program. Dunning then went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a professor of chemistry and was responsible for their supercomputing and networking system. In 2002, he was appointed Director of the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of Tennessee, and Distinguished Scientist in Computing and Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Dunning is the recipient of many awards, including E. O. Lawrence Award in Chemistry, U.S. Department of Energy; Distinguished Associate Award, U.S. Department of Energy; Computers in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research Award, American Chemical Society; Fellow of the American Chemical Society, American Physical Society and American Association for the Advancement of Science; and Thomson Reuters “Highly Cited Researcher” Award. Dunning received his BS in Chemistry from the Missouri University of Science and Technology and his PhD in Chemistry/Chemical Physics from the California Institute of Technology.

Edee Wiziecki, Assistant Director, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Edee Norman Wiziecki is the director of the Educational Programs at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Wiziecki and her staff help bridge the gap between scientific research and education by bringing authentic and near-authentic computational science tools and high performance computing resources to education communities through a wide variety of activities and programs. Since 2007, Wiziecki has led the Institute for Chemistry Literacy through Computational Science (ICLCS), a Math Science Partnership project of the National Science Foundation. Her focus for the past ten years has been in creating virtual professional learning environments to help reduce educator isolation and increase collaboration, peer-to-peer mentoring, and access to advanced tools and vetted materials for the 21st Century. Wiziecki has organized three national workshops on behalf of the NSF to broaden participation in computing (2005, 2006, and 2011) and to support projects using Cyber-Infrastructure for Training, Education, Advancement and Mentoring for the 21st Century Workforce. As a former K-12 science teacher, and science coordinator for curriculum and instruction at a large unit district, Wiziecki has over twenty-five years of experience in providing professional development that infuses new and emerging technologies into existing science classrooms. She served as president of the Illinois Science Teachers Association in 2003-2005, was a member of the Governor’s Illinois Rural Affairs Council and director of the ICLCS Robert Noyce Master Teaching project. She was named Outstanding Science Teacher in Illinois by the National Science Foundation and Illinois State University from 1985-1987; recipient of the 2009 Award of Excellence: Outstanding Contribution on behalf of the NCSA Director’s Office; and one of two women who received the 2011 Dare to be Great Award given by the Illinois Women in Educational Leadership. She currently serves on the Next Generation Science Standards Illinois review team. Wiziecki has a BS in Life Science, an EdM in Curriculum and Instruction-Science Education, and an Advanced Certificate Degree in Educational Leadership and Organization from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Rebecca Canty, Superintendent, A-C Central CUSD #262, Ashland, IL
Rebecca Canty is currently superintendent of A-C Central CUSD #262 in Ashland, Ill., and the co-principal investigator and K–12 partnership lead of the Institute for Chemistry Literacy through Computational Science (ICLCS). She is vice president of the Illinois Women in Educational Leadership and received the prestigious Caterpillar Quality Award for one of her projects. Canty also taught in a school that received a U.S. Department of Education Secretary’s national award for outstanding vocational/technical education. She has published in the American Association of School Administrators and has been invited to serve on the National Association of Secondary Principal’s national committee. Canty has led her district to a One-to-One Computer Laptop Initiative and has seen significant growth, particularly in the high school, which was selected last year as one of the Top 100 High Schools in the state by the Chicago Sun Times. Canty holds a BS in English, Speech, and Theater from Bradley University and an MS from Illinois State University in educational administration.

Brett Block, Teacher, Paris High School, IL
Brett Block is a graduate of the Institute for Chemistry Literacy through Computational Science (ICLCS), is working on her National Board Certification in science, and currently teaches chemistry and advanced chemistry at Paris High School in Paris, IL. She has taught biology, physics, and chemistry at Casey-Westfield High School, teaching high school science for fifteen years. Brett strives to incorporate computational chemistry programs in her curricula to enhance student learning and visualization of chemistry and molecular modeling, and to help her students become champions of science. She graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in biological science and received her teaching certificate and master’s degree in natural science from Eastern Illinois University.