Graphics and Visualization
Shodor > SUCCEED > Curriculum > Workshops > Graphics and Visualization

Course Description:

You've probably heard it said that a picture's worth a thousand words. Well, computer graphics and visualization can be even more valuable tools when they bring sets of numerical data on the computer to life.

Think of the simple example of a mathematical function: is it easier to look at an entire page of y values, or to graph these points on a piece of paper? On computers, data is stored similarly-- as large arrays of numbers. With increases both in the number of software tools and in hardware capability, people are able to visualize data in more and more amazing ways. You have probably seen plenty of examples, ranging from graphing calculators to Pixar's animated films.

This set of explorations will start with the basics of how images are stored on a computer. Next, students will learn both how to use existing programs to create two-dimensional visualizations, and how to create programs that will draw two-dimensional graphics. Finally, we will touch on three-dimensional visualization techniques, including 3-D modeling and programming. All of the examples presented in this class will have a particular focus on the use of computer graphics and visualization as a teaching and research tool in science, mathematics, and engineering.

Structure of activities:

Participants work both in teams and individually in a supervised, hands-on learning environment. Each day they learn about new approaches and tools and then have the opportunity to try them out for themselves in our computer lab.

Educational Objectives:

Computer visualization and graphics are topics that usually never surface in any school curriculum before college. However, as approaches to science become more technical and computational, these techniques become more important. And they are just plain fun and interesting! In addition to giving students some insight into how graphics-- from visualizations of molecules to the latest hollywood effects-- are created with computers, this workshop will acquaint students with some free graphics tools that they can continue to use.

Facilities and equipment:

All activities take place at the Shodor offices at 807 East Main Street, Suite 7-100, in Durham, North Carolina. Participants have access to laptop computers with internet access.


Participants should be rising 9th - 11th graders (or the equivalent) and interested in science and mathematics. Younger students who are particularly mature may also be considered. While some experience with computers is helpful, it is not required.