Worldwide Internet Event Helps Ohio Supercomputer Center Bring New Learning Technology to Ohio's K-12 Schools

COLUMBUS, Ohio – February 20, 2007 – The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) is helping deploy new technologies to Ohio’s K-12 schools with the 4th annual Megaconference Jr.  This global Internet event is designed to give students and teachers in primary and secondary schools around the world the opportunity to communicate, collaborate and contribute to each others’ learning in real time, using advanced multi-point video conferencing technology.

Megaconference Jr. presenters conduct Internet-based videoconference activities focused on both academic and cultural issues such as new ways to teach math or science, new cultural experiences in dance, music and food, tours of ancient places, and African expeditions. Participating viewers around the world can ask questions after the presenters are finished.

The event, held February 22 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (EST), includes several hundred presenters and participants from 30 states in the U.S. and 13 additional countries on four continents including Spain, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Canada, Slovenia, Norway, Costa Rica, Malta, Java, Portugal, Crete and Croatia.

One Megaconference Jr. highlight will be a presentation by world-renowned computer graphic artist Charles Csuri, who will be at OSC to show some of his work, describe the process of creating computer art, and discuss the role creativity plays during the process. Csuri will also hold a Q&A session following his presentation. In addition, OSC will host Jean Wheasler, a former OSC Summer Institute and Young Women’s Summer Institute participant, who will talk about her experiences while participating in these programs as well as opportunities for women in science and engineering. Wheasler is now a sophomore honors student in the Ohio State University (OSU) College of Engineering.

Participating schools invite teachers, parents, administrators, and other interested community members to attend, and stay connected for as long as possible so they can actively participate with sites around the world. Many museums and libraries also take part in Megaconference Jr., and invite their patrons to participate.

Through a sponsorship with OSC, Worthington Kilbourne High School (WKHS), in Central Ohio, has participated in Megaconference Jr. for the past three years.  During 2006 and 2007, WKHS students served as VJs (Videoconference Jockeys), who spend one-hour shifts throughout the day introducing presentations and helping field audience questions during and after presentations.

“Videoconferencing technology is the perfect way for our students to look beyond their own school to see and share the experiences of other students around the world,” said Kevin Johnson, an assistant principle at WKHS. “Many of the participants have vastly different backgrounds, cultures and experiences from our own.”

Megaconference Jr. is sponsored by Internet2, and is made possible by a volunteer team of technologists, students, teachers and staff from participating countries in the U.S. and around the world. The Internet2 Commons Videoconferencing Service, located in Columbus, Ohio, and jointly operated by OSC and OSU, provides high capacity multi-point videoconferencing technology to make this event possible.

OSC Director of Outreach Kathryn Kelley said Megaconference Jr., Megaconference and Gigaconference are just some of the many ways OSC is introducing and deploying technology to all of Ohio’s communities.

“OSC offers a variety of summer programs including the Summer Institute and the Young Women’s Summer Institute for academically outstanding K-12 students from around Ohio,” Kelley said. “During their stay at OSC, these students will work collaboratively to solve real, complex science and engineering problems using supercomputers and cutting-edge research technologies.”

OSC is nearly finished coordinating the connections of all Ohio school districts to OSCnet, which provides access to the nation’s most advanced statewide fiber optic network for education and research. OSC also encourages interested school districts to learn more about Megaconference Jr. and other ways to use the Internet for teaching and learning.

For detailed information about the event, including the day’s presentations and schedule, go to www.megaconferencejr.org.

About the Ohio Supercomputer Center

Celebrating 20 years of service, the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) is a catalytic partner of Ohio universities and industries that enables Ohio to compete for international, federal, and state funding, focusing on new research and business opportunities. It provides a reliable high performance computing and high performance networking infrastructure for a diverse statewide/regional community including education, academic research, industry, and state government. Funded by the Ohio Board of Regents, OSC promotes and stimulates computational research and education in order to act as a key enabler for the state's aspirations in advanced technology, information systems, and advanced industries. For additional information, visit http://www.osc.edu.