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 Kids Invade the Grid

National "Take Your Child to Work Day" held a new meaning for 11 teenage girls in Champaign-Urbana this year. Instead of engaging in meetings and other traditional office activities, this group of girls had the opportunity to learn about the lives of kids across the country using the Access Grid (AG).

The event, called "Kids on the Grid," was organized by Michael R. Peterson of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and had participants from Dartmouth College, the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), the National Science Foundation (NSF), Boston University, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), and PNNL.

The event at NCSA was organized by Barbara Kucera, the Alliance/EPSCoR Liaison, and Jeff Carpenter, the NCSA AG node operator. Kucera said the event was a great learning experience for those that participated.

"I think the best way to keep abreast of technology and know what's coming down the line is to expose it to new audiences every chance we get," she said. "There have been changes in technology over the last three or four years that were unthinkable 10 years ago. This experience expands their (the girls') horizons and opens their eyes to new ideas."

Kimmy Wentling, 14, agreed the experience was an eye-opener: "I think it's really cool how technology is developing, and it's gone really far. I can't imagine what it's going to be like in the next few years. It's amazing."

Not only did the girls experience a cutting-edge technology in the form of the AG, they also interacted with other participants from across the country. When the girls at NCSA joined the AG session, they quickly learned about the others involved in the event. Participants at Dartmouth, Boston, and OSC shared what it was like to live in their part of the country. The NCSA participants then explained what Champaign-Urbana was like, and unanimously agreed that the Assembly Hall was the coolest place in town because of all the concerts.

The girls also participated in a "teen chat," answering and asking questions of importance to American teenagers. The event was capped off by a virtual game of Trivial Pursuit. Participants from PNNL, Dartmouth, OSC, NSF, Boston, and NCSA battled it out, with the team at NCSA pulling off a close win.

Ashley Miles, 18, said that NCSA's victory was the best part of the experience: "Now I can say I've played Trivial Pursuit with five other states...and won."

NCSA's participants were: Hannah Cao, 12, Rossalind Johnson, 12, Shirletha Lawrence, 13, Kymberly McCarthy, 12, Claire McWilliams, 15, Amber Miles, 15, Ashley Miles, 18, Rachel Parr, 13, Latonya Valley, 12, and Kimmy Wentling, 14.



Access Online | Posted 5-21-2002