Parallel Universe
Shodor > SUCCEED > Curriculum > Workshops > Parallel Universe

This class gives a glimpse into how using larger and faster computers enables us to be able to forecast weather events weeks in advance, explore space, render high quality 3D animated movies, and perform other computationally-intensive tasks. In just a few years, we are expected to have more than 100 cpu cores in our laptop and desktop computers, but very few of us will really know how to effectively make use of all that computing power. There is a great need for new expertise in parallel, scientific computing, and this course will provide an opportunity for high school students to familiarize themselves with an area of science and technology for which there is a high demand for young talent.

Structure of Activities:

Participants will work both in teams and individually in a supervised, hands-on learning environment. Because the class is designed to teach students important concepts in both modern computer hardware and software, students will have hands-on opportunities to explore different computing devices in which the components of the computer work together. In addition, the students will explore computer models of scientific problems that have applications to real life.

Educational Objectives:

The aim of this course is to introduce students to new technologies in advanced computing. Participants will learn more about modern CPUs, Graphic Cards, Memory, Cluster Computers (supercomputers), as well as an introduction to parallel thinking and programming concepts that help modern scientists make use of these technologies. Students will learn how computer simulations are made and used in weather simulation, galaxy formation, and the spread of infectious diseases, to mention a few. Also, students will learn the difference between using a single computer vs. a cluster computer in computer models, animations, and simulations.

Facilities and Equipment:

All activities will take place at the Shodor offices on 807 East Main Street, Suite 7-100, in Durham, North Carolina. Participants will have access to laptop computers with internet access. The class will also make use of the LittleFe portable supercomputer ( and BCCD software (


Participants should be rising 9th - 12th graders interested in science and technology. Participants are expected to have some experience using computers.