Bang went the Borders

Author: Iain Bethune
Posted: 23 Oct 2014 | 14:42

Last month, EPCC took part in the Bang Goes The Borders science festival at St Mary's Primary School in Melrose.  Lorna Smith, Justs Zarins and I spent the day telling people from pre-schoolers to retirees all about supercomputers, how they work, and what they are used for.  

We took along a range of activities, including the Virtual Paleontology Experiment, or "Dino-racer" game. Since last year this has been extended to include the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Edmontosaurus as well the original Agentinosaurus. It's no surprise that the T-Rex proved to be very popular, even though Edmontosaurus turned out to be faster. All-in-all, we ran over 60 races during the day! The younger kids in particular enjoyed the parallel ball-sorting activity (or was it the CRESTA sticky-bugs that Lorna was giving away?) and some of the older ones got hands-on taking our trusty old Dell PC to bits, finding out what pieces of hardware need to go together to make a computer work.

Another activity we did for the first time this year was a supercomputer cabinet design competition. Kids were challenged to create a design that could go on the front panels of a supercomputer like ARCHER. We gave them some ideas about what supercomputers are used for, and some images produced by computer simulation, but apart from that set no limits. A few weeks after the event, entries started to trickle in, and the best were selected to win a £10 book token. The winning designs are below:

Best P4-7 entry (from Jessica Stephenson, Knowepark Primary P5):

Best P1-3 entry (from Harris Scott, Clovenfords Primary Nursery):

Congratulations to the winners - your book tokens are on their way!  To everyone else who entered, well done and perhaps you'll be a winner next year!