[Beowulf] Beowulf analogy for a classroom

Win Treese win.treese at sicortex.com
Mon Dec 18 12:30:51 EST 2006

On Dec 8, 2006, at 9:05 PM, Steve Heaton wrote:

> G'day all
> I'll skip the background as to 'why' but I've recently been working  
> on a way to explain the Beowulf concept to a classroom of school  
> kids. No computers required.
> I think I've come up with a useful analogy/experiment that might  
> work. I've posted it here on the off chance that someone else might  
> want to give it a try if they get pressed into such a situation.
> First, some 'newsgroup preempters'. This is designed for school  
> kids not your typical Beowulf list reader. Sorry but no cars or  
> harnessing of chickens involved ;) No mentions of heat dissipation  
> or switching fabrics. This is a non-technical post that someone  
> might find handy at some point.


That's a good idea. Last year, I did something similar. My daughter  
asked me
to come to her second-grade class to talk about "the big computer" we  
building, which is perhaps a younger group than you had.

Some colleagues and I came up with the following:

The teacher handed out copies of one of the classroom books, so
all the kids had the same book. Each child was assigned a page in
the book. We did a couple of different problems. First, distributed
search: who can find the word "blue"? Can the kids (parallel) do
it faster than the teacher (sequential)? Second, distributed counting:
how many times is the word "sky" in the book? Again, race the
kids against the teacher.

I don't know how much they remember about it, but it was fun.

Win Treese
SiCortex, Inc.
win.treese at sicortex.com

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