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ChinookFoehn
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Message 7908 - Posted: 30 Sep 2008 | 21:19:07 UTC

Is there a projected commencement date for the project yet?

-ChinookFöhn

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Message 7921 - Posted: 1 Oct 2008 | 12:13:00 UTC - in response to Message 7908.

chinookfoehn wrote:
Is there a projected commencement date for the project yet?
-ChinookFöhn

Well, in some sense it starts today, since this is when our new grant starts. But we've already been working on project development on a previous pilot grant. And I2U2 follows the lead of Fermilab's QuarkNet project, which developed an "e-Lab" for cosmic rays which has been in classrooms now for several years. So in another sense the project is already well under way.

But let me tell you a little bit about it, and also a little bit about how it may affect this crew.

First, the project in general: The idea is to make real data from running physics experiments available to high school classrooms (or could be middle school or junior high, if that fits better), along with teaching materials to make it easy for teachers and their students to make use of the data. These are structured as "e-Labs", which are not cook-book labs, but are intended to be open-ended inquiry-driven investigations where the students learn science by going through the scientific process. The students work through the major milestones of an investigation themselves, with guidance from their teacher, and sometimes possibly a little help from a scientist from the experiment. After learning a bit about their "apparatus" they come up with a research question they want to answer, propose how they will analyze the data to answer their research question, perform that investigation (and usually learn that they have to revise either the question or the process, or both, as they go along), and finally "tell others" by reporting their results, in the form of a poster (or for some a paper).

Giving them real data, and real challenges, means that some of the analyses may take a lot of computer time. We will also give them access to grid computing resources so that they can do things that are larger than what would be possible with the desktop computer in their school.

The QuarkNet e-lab uses cosmic ray detectors in the classrooms. The folks at Fermilab were able to design a simple cosmic ray detector system which is relatively inexpensive (only a few thousand dollars) and could be hooked to a PC (there is a Data Acquisition card that connects to the serial port). The students manage collection of data and then upload it to a central server. They can then use data from the whole assembled dataset to do their investigations.

(I see similarities here with the new Quake Catcher Network being set up using BOINC by Stanford University. They will use accelerometers either already built into computers, or attached via USB, to collect and record earthquake data. What I don't know yet is if the students then get access to the data from the network to do their own investigations?)

LIGO is providing data from their environmental sensors -- seismometers, magnetometers, and weather stations. There are some interesting things the students could explore with these data ([[LIGO e-Lab ideas]]). The CMS experiment is going to make some of their test beam data available, and later some real data from CERN. In fact, they are willing to let the students design a "trigger" to collect data from the device, which means in some sense the students will be controlling part of the apparatus. We also expect to get data from the ATLAS device at CERN farther down the line.

What I've been doing lately is working on the "apparatus" for LIGO, both to collect the subset of data I2U2 will use, and to create a web-based tool to access and analyze the data. It has to be web-based, because many schools won't let us install software on the desktop. It's also just a good way to get out to as many schools as we can. This tool, called Bluestone, has an interface that looks a lot like similar tools used by the scientists in the LIGO control rooms. The idea, again, is to make it as real as possible. Right now Bluestone works, but doesn't do much more than plot a time-series of a data channel, but it's structured so that we can add more complex workflows as time goes on. Some of those may even be designed by the students themselves.

That's the basic idea. We've already done a lot, but there's also a lot more that needs to be done to get this all working. Wish us luck! Any questions?
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"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -- William Butler Yeats

ChinookFoehn
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Message 7927 - Posted: 1 Oct 2008 | 16:11:50 UTC
Last modified: 1 Oct 2008 | 16:14:31 UTC

Cool! (the 1960s/1970s learnt cool) Similar to Leiden but more specific and larger in scope.

Will the grid computing then be an 'internal boinc' amongst participating schools or 'expanded' to boinc in general?

If it were open to everyone that now participates in boinc, I strongly recommend that the message boards be closed to everyone except the participating students, teachers, and administrators.

Ah, the possibilities, leading to thoughts, and I wonder...

Has anyone ever thought of doing a boinc project to research temporal displacement so someone could go back in time and 'invent' integrated circuits and desktop/laptop computers in the 1950s so by the time I am/was in high school I'd have/had the same opportunity? (Part of the language needs to be invented when writing in temporal terms)

-ChinookFöhn


No way to edit and delete the signature as I forgot to disable it when I first posted, especially as it doesn't seem to show correctly?
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Message 7929 - Posted: 2 Oct 2008 | 12:26:34 UTC - in response to Message 7927.

chinookfoehn wrote:

Will the grid computing then be an 'internal boinc' amongst participating schools or 'expanded' to boinc in general?

Actually, it won't be BOINC at all. We are working with the team at the University of Chicago who are developing the Swift workflow system, and so the big calculations will run under Swift on "The Grid", rather than BOINC.

There's been some talk about using BOINC some day too, but so far only a little talk. For what we want to do the higher latency of BOINC is a problem, as well as size of datasets.


If it were open to everyone that now participates in boinc, I strongly recommend that the message boards be closed to everyone except the participating students, teachers, and administrators.

Yup, that is definitely an issue we have to deal with for schools. And Pirates@Home was used to test out such restrictions. You'll find that only members of the Crew can read the Crew Issues sections, including Pirate Talk, which is why I moved this thread to the more public Announcements forum.

On the mock-up site I've set up (http://www13.i2u2.org - just a test, nothing official yet) there is only one public forum, called The Bulletin Board, and the rest is only open to registered participants. There are several meeting rooms which are open to any registered participant, but intended for development of separate e-Labs. Then we have more private areas. One example is only open to students and teachers from one school or class (basically like one team in BOINC). One is open only to teachers. One only for developers. So we can keep things segregated as appropriate for a school environment.

The other issue we have to deal with is personal information. For a school site I thought people would use their real names. For teachers that's fine, but not for students if they can see people outside of their own class. So screen names seem more appropriate, which seemed odd to me at first. Hence we may have both, with the screen name shown in public, and real name shown in private (or to teachers and developers, but not other students).

But I have to say, the idea of students interacting with other students on the Internet is really scary to some teachers and administrators. I'm not sure how we will deal with it, but it may be that we start with teachers only. And yet there could be a lot of value in enabling collaboration between classes too, so we don't want to rule it out.



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ChinookFoehn
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Message 7930 - Posted: 2 Oct 2008 | 16:18:36 UTC - in response to Message 7929.

...
Actually, it won't be BOINC at all. We are working with the team at the University of Chicago who are developing the Swift workflow system, and so the big calculations will run under Swift on "The Grid", rather than BOINC.


Ah, I jumped to a false conclusion with the BOINC-like page I saw.

...
Yup, that is definitely an issue we have to deal with for schools. And Pirates@Home was used to test out such restrictions. You'll find that only members of the Crew can read the Crew Issues sections, including Pirate Talk, which is why I moved this thread to the more public Announcements forum.

On the mock-up site I've set up (http://www13.i2u2.org - just a test, nothing official yet) there is only one public forum, called The Bulletin Board, and the rest is only open to registered participants. There are several meeting rooms which are open to any registered participant, but intended for development of separate e-Labs. Then we have more private areas. One example is only open to students and teachers from one school or class (basically like one team in BOINC). One is open only to teachers. One only for developers. So we can keep things segregated as appropriate for a school environment.


I can see advantages to have a public forum but after what occurs here in BOINC, enormous disadvantages as well. I suppose if you can track the sender down... however, what if someone extremely offensive writes using an anonymous re-mailer/false-ip-address-sender?

The other issue we have to deal with is personal information. For a school site I thought people would use their real names. For teachers that's fine, but not for students if they can see people outside of their own class. So screen names seem more appropriate, which seemed odd to me at first. Hence we may have both, with the screen name shown in public, and real name shown in private (or to teachers and developers, but not other students).

It might be easier, and to avoid arguments, to just assign project allocated numbers... say the first 4 or 5 digits for a school (depending on the potential number of schools that participate) and then 5 to 9 digits for students (depending if you want duplicated numbers for students but unique only by their school assigned number or each student being unique and how long the project will run). This could avoid, even within schools, students arguing over the same moniker. There would have to be either a single or double check-digit(s) to minimise non-registered participants hacking in.

But I have to say, the idea of students interacting with other students on the Internet is really scary to some teachers and administrators. I'm not sure how we will deal with it, but it may be that we start with teachers only. And yet there could be a lot of value in enabling collaboration between classes too, so we don't want to rule it out.

Yes, I can understand the concerns but I think the advantages, for those students who take the projects seriously, outweigh the disadvantages. I shall assume the fora will be monitored closely, at least upon start up and for some time thereafter. Perhaps you could permit an increasing posts-permitted value. Restrict initial posts to 1 or 2 per day. After a certain period of time, increase the number of posts permitted and continue to do so until the restriction has been removed. However, if there is some sort of 'impolite' post, then that student is, immediately, restricted to 1 or 2 posts again. If necessary, if it was an extremely egregious post, ban the student from posting either for a pre-determined period, or if necessary, for the school year.

I'd also assume there need be an appeals process so for a non-egregious ban, this could be handled by the school of the student and for an egregious ban, by the project administrators who, by necessity, would have an absolute and final say.

Just some early-ish morning thoughts.

-ChinookFöhn

P.S. Have you seen the preview mechanism in BOINCstats? Would it be possible to implement such in Pirates or would that be a strain on bandwidth?

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Message 7933 - Posted: 4 Oct 2008 | 16:42:25 UTC - in response to Message 7930.
Last modified: 4 Oct 2008 | 16:43:14 UTC

chinookfoehn wrote:
I can see advantages to have a public forum but after what occurs here in BOINC, enormous disadvantages as well. I suppose if you can track the sender down... however, what if someone extremely offensive writes using an anonymous re-mailer/false-ip-address-sender?


On the school site nobody will be anonymous. Students will register with their real names, and school name. And may be required to verify their e-mail addresses (though it's not clear to me if all schools in the US allow use of e-mail, even for school work). We will know who they are.

Wormholio wrote:
The other issue we have to deal with is personal information....


But even though they register with a real name, we won't necessarily show that to other users. Just the screen name. Teachers will be able to get the real names. Teachers will have such powers, beyond those of students. Kinda like moderators on the BOINC forums can do things that average users cannot.

It might be easier, and to avoid arguments, to just assign project allocated numbers..


I think it can be easier than that. If you are interested then I could bounce some of my ideas off of you. Some of it might be specific to this other project, some might turn out to be useful for BOINC forums too.


However, if there is some sort of 'impolite' post, then that student is, immediately, restricted to 1 or 2 posts again. If necessary, if it was an extremely egregious post, ban the student from posting either for a pre-determined period...


We have something like that here now, and it's been incorporated into BOINC. There is a user management page where I can change a user's role (eg. make them a volunteer tester, or moderator, etc) and I can ban them for a given amount of time. We might give that capability to teachers, to reign in any student abuses.

I'll show you how it works. You'll be banned from posting for 1 hour... ;-)

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-- William Butler Yeats

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Message 7935 - Posted: 4 Oct 2008 | 17:07:22 UTC - in response to Message 7930.

chinookfoehn wrote:
P.S. Have you seen the preview mechanism in BOINCstats? Would it be possible to implement such in Pirates or would that be a strain on bandwidth?

You mean preview before posting? We had that here before it was introduced into BOINC. And so we do have that on the I2U2 site. But then I updated the forum software here and we lost it. We'll get it back again the next time we update. I hope that it doesn't take too long, but I need to record all the modifications we've made here first, then update, then apply the modifications, so it may take a while.



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ChinookFoehn
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Message 7938 - Posted: 4 Oct 2008 | 18:01:14 UTC - in response to Message 7933.
Last modified: 4 Oct 2008 | 18:01:41 UTC

...I think it can be easier than that. If you are interested then I could bounce some of my ideas off of you. Some of it might be specific to this other project, some might turn out to be useful for BOINC forums too.

Bounce away. If , in private, you have my general e-mail address, though I'd prefer using one of my other addresses. If in public, then I'll ensure I look in several times a day instead of just occasionally.

...I'll show you how it works. You'll be banned from posting for 1 hour... ;-)

'Twas an interesting e-mail to read, first thing this morning, Cap'n. Initial reaction was "What?" and then a hearty chuckle. Likely, for students, such a reaction, conceivably, might be somewhat stronger.

-ChinookFöhn

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Message 7939 - Posted: 4 Oct 2008 | 18:05:28 UTC - in response to Message 7935.

...You mean preview before posting? We had that here before it was introduced into BOINC. And so we do have that on the I2U2 site. But then I updated the forum software here and we lost it. We'll get it back again the next time we update. I hope that it doesn't take too long, but I need to record all the modifications we've made here first, then update, then apply the modifications, so it may take a while.

Yes, a type of preview but at BOINCstats, there is a box, above the reply, that shows the preview as I type. A very nice feature as I do not have to click preview all the time and can do the corrections as soon as I complete my formatting.

-ChinookFöhn


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Message 7941 - Posted: 5 Oct 2008 | 13:43:21 UTC - in response to Message 7933.
Last modified: 5 Oct 2008 | 13:43:53 UTC



One thing to be careful with for all of this is FERPA (Fed. Educ. Right to Privacy Act). It is fairly specific regarding how student data can be stored and viewed. Some of the restrictions are more tedious than they at first appear. For example, having a student's data viewable by teachers is perfectly fine if the teacher is, or has been in the past, that specific student's instructor. A teacher who has not ever instructed the student is not permitted access to these data (unless they serve in another role where exceptions are made--e.g., guidance counselor, principal, academic advisor, etc.). You'll want to make sure that the student database matches these requirements. Oh, and of course these are only the U.S. requirements, and other nations may have their own specific restrictions.



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Message 7945 - Posted: 7 Oct 2008 | 17:21:48 UTC - in response to Message 7941.

Scott Brown wrote:
One thing to be careful with for all of this is FERPA (Fed. Educ. Right to Privacy Act). It is fairly specific regarding how student data can be stored and viewed. Some of the restrictions are more tedious than they at first appear. For example, having a student's data viewable by teachers is perfectly fine if the teacher is, or has been in the past, that specific student's instructor. A teacher who has not ever instructed the student is not permitted access to these data (unless they serve in another role where exceptions are made--e.g., guidance counselor, principal, academic advisor, etc.). You'll want to make sure that the student database matches these requirements.

Thank you for this reference. I knew there were restrictions like this, but did not have a specific reference. This will be helpful. And I think we can meet the requirements, though not of course with the existing forum software. I'll sketch some of my ideas here in a bit and let you guys shoot them all down.

Oh, and of course these are only the U.S. requirements, and other nations may have their own specific restrictions.

Since I2U2 is funded by the NSF as a US education project, that's my primary interest. But I'm impressed how BOINC brings together participants from many countries, so if there is a way to keep it open for use outside of the US I'm happy to try, as long as it doesn't conflict with a US education goal.
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