The Department of Energy Office of Science’s National Science Bowl® (NSB) is a nationwide academic competition that tests middle and high school student teams’ knowledge in all areas of science and mathematics. The DOE created the National Science Bowl® in 1991 to encourage students to excel in mathematics and science and to pursue careers in these fields.

2015 Nat'l Science Bowl_(web)The student teams face-off in a fast-paced question-and-answer format, being tested on a range of science disciplines including biology, chemistry, Earth science, physics, energy, and mathematics. Approximately 240,000 students have participated in the National Science Bowl throughout its 24-year history, and it is one of the nation’s largest science competitions.

A featured event at the National Finals for middle school students, the Electric Car Competition, invites students to design, build, and race battery-powered model cars. This competition tests the creative engineering skills of many of the brightest math and science students in the nation as they gain hands-on experience in the automotive design process and with electric battery technology. (Read a previous news note on Sandia’s participation in this competition.)

Combustion Research Facility (CRF) scientist Jacqueline Chen (in Sandia’s Reacting Flow Research Dept.) gave one of the invited talks, on computational science, at the Science Day held for the students before the competition commenced.

Sandia’s Jackie Chen helps top science students from across the country understand the complexities and importance of using powerful computers to simulate the thousands of processes underlying engine combustion. (Photo by Dennis Brack, US Department of Energy, Office of Science)

Sandia’s Jackie Chen helps top science students from across the country understand the complexities and importance of using powerful computers to simulate the thousands of processes underlying engine combustion. (Photo by Dennis Brack, US Department of Energy, Office of Science)

To help celebrate the competition’s 25th year, Science Day focused on a “Then and Now” theme to trace the evolution and role of high-performance computing (HPC) in science. Jackie’s talk, “Taming fire through simulation,” discussed the need for increasingly powerful computers to create the science foundation for tomorrow’s clean and efficient combustion processes.

As Jackie explained to her audience, “The basic equations governing flow and chemistry have been known for over a century. However, the ability to solve them—really solve them, in practical regimes and with chemical realism—is relatively new.”

Using sophisticated scientific evidence and examples, artfully illustrated with photos and simulations of combustion, Jackie described how computational combustion is leveraging advances in HPC to create a new understanding of the combustors in today’s engines and turbines. She also discussed the partnerships between combustion and computer scientists, applied mathematicians, and high-performance computing vendors for such large-scale computations.

“It was a fun experience for me,” Dr. Chen reported. She said that her talk was well received by the students, several of whom came up afterwards and asked questions.

Read the article at the CRF website.