ALCF hosts high school girls for STEM event

Author: 
Jim Collins

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On April 16, more than 350 high school girls from the Chicago area visited Argonne National Laboratory to explore careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

As part of the 28th annual Science Careers in Search of Women (SCSW) conference, the young women were given the unique opportunity to investigate their areas of interest through interaction with many of Argonne’s world-class women scientists and engineers.

About 20 of the students chose to tour the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, to learn more computational science.

Jini Ramprakash, ALCF user experience specialist, and Laura Ratcliff, ALCF postdoctoral researcher, led the hour-long visit, which included an introduction to Mira, Argonne’s IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer, and an overview of the critical role that modeling and simulation plays in scientific discoveries across all disciplines. They also played an interactive game to explain the Monte Carlo method, a computational technique that uses a repeated sampling of random numbers to determine the properties of certain phenomena.

While Ratcliff has only been at the ALCF for about a year, she jumped at the opportunity to interact with high school girls interested in STEM careers.

“I was fortunate to have teachers who encouraged me to pursue an interest in science, so I love having opportunities to pass that enthusiasm on to other young women when they're at the stage of starting to make future career decisions,” Ratcliff said. “As a teenager I had no idea what a scientist actually did, so I think it's really important to share with them some of the areas of research that they might not even be aware about.”