Brown Scientists Teach High School Students How to Use Data Science to Enable Discovery in Physical Sciences

CS4RI in actionOn Thursday, December 19, Governor Gina Raimondo's initiative, Computer Science for Rhode Island (CS4RI), brought over 1500 Rhode Island students from across the state’s high schools to a special yearly summit to learn how to use computer science tools and concepts to impact the world around us.

The summit’s activities focused on Virtual and Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Game development, Drones, Robotics and many other applications.

Professor Meenakshi Narain’s collider team, led by postdoctoral fellow Dr. Emanuele Usai, taught students how to use Python programming language and the basics of machine learning to enable discovery in planetary science and particle physics. The exhibit featured Jupyter notebooks, an increasingly popular programming tool for performing interactive data analysis. Examples used in the exhibit were created as part of outreach project CODER by Sergei Gleyzer from the University of Alabama in collaboration with Brown University’s researchers. The team showcased how to use machine learning in particle physics and planetary science.  In one of the popular examples, students used machine learning techniques to predict the albedo map of the Moon based on elemental composition.

albedo map of the Moon

The collider team members: Dr. Emanuele Usai, graduate students Jess Wong, Michael Lukasik, and post-bachelor student Elise Hinkle, shared their enthusiasm by guiding the students through instances of scientific data analysis.

Efforts and funding from the co-organizers Geoff Gunter of Citizens Bank and Andrea Russo of Microsoft TEALSK12, gave the collider team the opportunity to add a new dimension focused on data science to the CS4RI Summit. The exhibition enabled students to learn how to apply machine learning concepts to scientific challenges. Students walked away enriched with new knowledge about Python and data science techniques that can help them in their future careers.