The Berkeley Lab IT Division administers an annual 3-day educational learning program for local second graders within the Berkeley Unified School District. May of 2019 marked the 10th anniversary of the Lab’s computer outreach program.
IT is committed to serving the local community by exposing young students to the fundamentals of science and technology. Topics and activities range from computer hardware, programming, and networking.
Up to 60 students, teachers, parents and chaperones attend the 3-day program which focuses on computer hardware, parallel computing, programming, and networking. Included activities:
- Build a computer using Raspberry Pi, boot it, login, and navigate the computing environment.
- Learn how to use several lower powered computers to work in parallel to solve a bigger problem — part of a new addition to the curriculum on parallel computing. A Raspberry Pi cluster demonstrates fractals.
- Gain understanding of software and programming concepts using iPads. Students are introduced to programming fundamentals like repeats and loops.
- Experience an overview of networking where students are asked to carry packets containing pieces of a poster to a destination location. Each packet is then opened and reassembled to reveal the final picture.
Response & Feedback
The program has received many appreciative comments through participant surveys. Parents and teachers alike recognize the value of inspiring students through science and technology.
- “Thanks for all the efforts. I think it’s great for the kids to get all this exposure to computers and programming.”
- “Thanks for introducing our public schools to all of these concepts and resources!”
- “A lot of U.S. students are falling behind in science education, so I’m glad the Lab recognizes that we have to develop this interest at an early age.”
- “It’s really great to have this opportunity,” said second-grade teacher Virginia Louie. “We have limited resources at school, and many of the kids don’t have access to the after-school enrichment programs and other activities that some kids do.”
“If you can spark a child’s imagination early in life, it carries them through. If you plant a seed, a strong tree will grow.”
— Tammy Campbell, IT Support Services Lead
Parent & Teacher Resources
- 2010 – Kids Learn How Computers Work, Courtesy of IT Staff
- 2011 – IT Division Hosts Sylvia Mendez Elementary for Technology Outreach
- 2012 – From CPUs to RAM, Second Graders Visit Lab to Learn About Computers
- 2014 – IT Division Shows Second Graders What’s Inside Computers
- 2016 – Local Second Graders Learn About Computers During Recent Visit
- 2017 – IT Teaches Local Second Graders About Computers
- 2018 – Teaching Second-Graders About Computers
In May 2023, the IT Division hosted a three-day STEM outreach program for local second and third grade students from Sylvia Mendez Elementary School. A team of 25 staff volunteers helped deliver an engaging and interactive learning experience to over 100 children.