1999-2000 Challenge Invitation Letter

August 25, 1999

Dear Educator:

You are invited to participate in the10th Annual New Mexico High School Supercomputing Challenge! We hope that, as you look ahead to the 1999-2000 academic year, you will include the Challenge in your plans. The Supercomputing Challenge is organized and administered by New Mexico Technet and Los Alamos Lab/DOE.

More than 4,500 New Mexico high school students and 870 teachers (many of them for more than five years!) have worked to solve interesting scientific problems since the inception of the program in 1990. As New Mexico addresses its workforce needs for the 21st Century, it is evident that students who participate in the Challenge are better prepared to plan for careers in the high-tech industry. Colleges and employers seek the skills and personal characteristics that Challenge participants develop.

The Challenge is a learning experience set in the context of a competition. Through workshops, educational materials and the help of technical support resources, student and teachers work to solve complex problems in a field of science that they have chosen. Teams that make and document significant progress on their projects can compete for awards of savings bonds and scholarships for individuals, computer equipment for the schools and trophies for teams.

This year, the program will again emphasize computational science, project design and the use of computers to find solutions to scientific problems. Instructional goals include collaboration, communication, research, programming and project follow-through. For the first time this year, there will be a special track to guide teams through the Challenge with a non-competitive, and complete project.

Teachers are expected to provide instruction for their teams in network connectivity, Internet use, electronic mail, HTML, and programming language. Resources and mentors are available on the Internet to aid in this instruction.

At least one teacher and one student from each team must attend the Kickoff Conference at Glorieta, on October 24-26th, 1999. Because this is the 10th annual celebration, there will be a special keynote by Mark Henne, Pixar Animations, who worked on A Bug's Life and Toy Story. Mark is a Computer Science graduate from the University of New Mexico. Participants from previous years will also be in attendance to share what they are currently doing and what effects the Challenge has had on their lives!

The Kickoff schedule includes workshops, seminars, and lab-based classes. Students can select either a beginning or intermediate curricular track, appropriate to their skill level and interest. Although full team attendance is not mandatory, all students and teachers are encouraged to attend. Each session of the conference will include one overnight stay, on October 24th for those schools more than 100 miles from Glorieta and October 25th for those living within 100 miles of Glorieta.

Each student and teacher attending the Kickoff Conference will pay a $20.00 registration fee, due Thursday, October 21st. A hardship fund has been established. Please contact Betsy or Celia at New Mexico Technet at (505) 345-6555 if you have a student who would not be able to attend without assistance.

The Challenge is offered at minimal cost to schools. Administrators are asked to support their teachers and teams by enabling them to attend training sessions during the year, have access to appropriate equipment, and work as a team to accomplish their goals. Each school must provide a connection to the Internet.

We urge you to read through the enclosed materials, from the 1999-2000 user's guide, for an overview of the Challenge and detailed information about the events that make up the Challenge year. Instructions for electronic registration are also described there. A copy of the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is attached. You can access additional information for the Challenge Web Page located at http://www.challenge.nm.org Click on Registration and supply the requested information. Please look closely at the rules for participation and the Authorized Use Policy which each participant agrees to follow. We suggest that you provide a copy of the AUP to the participants' families.

Electronic registration for the 1999-2000 Challenge closes at 5:00pm, Tuesday, September 21, 1999. The original paper copy of the Team Entry Authorization Form must be received at New Mexico Technet no later than 5:00pm, Tuesday, September 28, 1999. A copy is attached.

We hope you will encourage your students to form teams, register online, and come to the Kickoff Conference in Glorieta, New Mexico October 24 26, 1999. Please share this information with your colleagues. If you would like a visit from a member of the Challenge staff to discuss the program or strategies for developing projects, please phone us at (505) 345-6555.

Sincerely yours,

Betsy Frederick and Celia Einhorn, Technet
David Kratzer and Eric Ovaska, LANL