BOINC & Einstein for high school science project?

dennisshows
dennisshows
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Topic 193473

I'm a high school science teacher (physics, chemistry, earth science, etc.) and I'm planning a BOINC/Einstein project for my physics class second semester. I've assigned projects and reports for several years, but this will be the first time I've had a BOINC project. I typically offer half a dozen or so projects second semester after state testing and allow the students to pick two or three projects.

I've thought about requiring a certain number of work units for a project or a total for a group of projects, but I don't want students running projects just because they give more credit than others. Any ideas on how to do this? What is a reasonable about of credits to require? What about the time to run projects?

Should I recommend minimum system requirements? Dial-up, OS, RAM, etc?

I've thought about restricting the science to certain physics/astronomy projects, but that would leave out a lot of good biology projects that I feel passionate about. I guess I could give them a prioritized list of projects, but I'm not sure how to rank them. Any ideas? Should I restrict it to BOINC only projects? What other distributing computer projects might I consider?

I've read that folding@home on PS3 gives significantly more credit than BOINC projects. I don't have a PS3. Anyone here have info or recommendations on using PS3s for this project?

I plan to have them write a short (one page?) report on the project(s) including info on the science of the specific project(s) and their thoughts about distributive computing in general. I haven't developed a rubric for the report yet. Any ideas?

BTW, I've received permission from our IT to run Einstein@home on my computers and told him I plan to have students run projects this semester. I was planning on requiring students to get (written?) permission from their teachers, admin, and/or IT to run projects on school computers. Besides, we have a policy not to allow students to use teacher computers. I don't want students running BOINC hidden on other school computers (library, computer labs, etc), or bogging down anyone's computer or our network. Should I require certain BOINC settings? Any ideas on how to go about this?

tullio
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BOINC & Einstein for high school science project?

I would recommend trying also QMC@home, a computer chemistry program. The peer reviewed Journal of Physical Chemistry has just published an article based on the computations done by 18000 volunteers. See the BOINC home page.
Tullio

Odysseus
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RE: I've thought about

Quote:

I've thought about requiring a certain number of work units for a project or a total for a group of projects, but I don't want students running projects just because they give more credit than others. Any ideas on how to do this? What is a reasonable about of credits to require? What about the time to run projects?

Should I recommend minimum system requirements? Dial-up, OS, RAM, etc?


The official BOINC system requirements cover most projects. It seems to me that a sizeable credit requirement would only be fair if the students will be using more or less identical systems in a lab or classroom; if using their own systems of varying age (and in varying numbers), I’d suggest something pretty minimal, representing a few days’ worth on a fast system but feasible to achieve within a few weeks by an old clunker that’s only turned on a few hours a day. At any rate, in the latter case the differences among projects’ CS/CPUh rates (a factor no more than two or three in the extreme cases) is likely to be considerably outweighed by performance differences among hosts.

Quote:
I've thought about restricting the science to certain physics/astronomy projects, but that would leave out a lot of good biology projects that I feel passionate about. I guess I could give them a prioritized list of projects, but I'm not sure how to rank them. Any ideas? Should I restrict it to BOINC only projects? What other distributing computer projects might I consider?


For a physics class I’d expect the focus to be on physics-related projects. There’s nothing to stop you from encouraging the students to continue contributing on their own when the class project is finished, to whatever projects they choose—or that you recommend.

Quote:
I've read that folding@home on PS3 gives significantly more credit than BOINC projects.


That doesn’t make any sense to me: what kind of “credit� are we talking about? If it’s not a BOINC project there’s no reason to expect it even to have comparable metrics, let alone an interchangeable ‘currency’. BOINC’s cobblestones are theoretically convertible to a certain number of computations or CPU-hours on a reference machine. The original SETI@home counted tasks returned and CPU-time contributed. Evolution@home (the only other non-BOINC DC project I’ve contributed to) counts CPU-time, RAM committed, simulations run and “giga-individuals� processed. If you’re looking beyond BOINC you’ll have to devise your own means of evaluating the students’ participation for the purposes of quantitative comparisons.

BTW a good collection of links to DC projects is at distributedcomputing•info. There aren’t many non-BOINC projects in physics or earth sciences, but there are lots of mathematical ones. Wikipedia has a sizeable list.

Quote:
I plan to have them write a short (one page?) report on the project(s) including info on the science of the specific project(s) and their thoughts about distributive computing in general. I haven't developed a rubric for the report yet. Any ideas?


I should think the amount of research the students do into the goals and methods of the projects they join considerably more important than how much crunching they do. I’d suggest a report somewhat longer than one page: perhaps a half a page of ‘boilerplate’ (project name, who administers and hosts it, short description of the project’s goals in the student’s own words, likewise for the nature of the data-processing) followed by a longer (500-word?) account of their participation, whether devoted to scientific & technical matters or more personal in content.

Quote:
I don't want students running BOINC hidden on other school computers (library, computer labs, etc), or bogging down anyone's computer or our network. Should I require certain BOINC settings? Any ideas on how to go about this?


Not many, but you could require them to join a school or class team (you can set up a BOINC-wide one now), which would make it easier to monitor them on the Web. You should probably prohibit hiding of computers—which setting can be checked on practically any of the statistics sites, as well as in the public account page on specific project sites.

KSMarksPsych
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You might want to wander over

You might want to wander over to LHC as well. There's a thread in Number Crunching where the admins were asking if there were any teachers.

I posted and another person posted, but nothing back from admin yet.

Kathryn :o)

Einstein@Home Moderator

dennisshows
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Thanks tullio. I'm running

Thanks tullio. I'm running QMC myself and will offer it as an option for my students.

Thanks Odysses. I've noted the BOINC system requirements, and will restrict the projects (for their grade) to physics/astronomy projects. Einstein, LHC, QMC, MilkyWay, Cosmology, and Leiden Classical. Any others I should consider?

You're right about the PS3 folding@home. I have one student interested in it and will allow him to write about it in the general discussion on distributive computing part of his paper, but the majority of the paper will be on the physics of the BOINC project(s).

I'm also setting up a school team as you suggested. We are looking into using school lab computers for this, but the computers there are on deep freeze so they go back to the same image every reboot which would make BOINC start over. It may be possible to thaw particular folder(s) on the hard drive though. Do BOINC or BOINC projects write or download to anywhere besides "C:\\Program Files\\BOINC"?

Thanks KSMarksPsych. I have been running LHC, but they aren't giving many WU or updating consistently now. I posted in the thread you mentioned.

KSMarksPsych
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Everything except the screen

Everything except the screen saver should be in c:\\program files\\boinc. If you use Vista, you'll want to stick it some where outside of the program files hierarchy.

Let me mount my Vista partition and I'll make sure the screen saver (boinc.scr)is the only thing outside of the BOINC directory.

[edit]There are actually three things outside of the main BOINC directory. boinctray.exe, boinc.dll and boinc.scr. boinctray.exe is only going to be present in the later 5.10 builds. 5.8 won't have it. This is on Vista. I'll try to remember to check my XP boxes later tonight.[/edit]

Kathryn :o)

Einstein@Home Moderator

dennisshows
dennisshows
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Thanks. I think all our

Message 77914 in response to message 77913

Thanks. I think all our schools machines run Win XP Pro 2.

http://einsteinathome.org/account/135026/computers

I'll check the ones in the computer lab to make sure though. I think the Einstein screen saver will help draw support and enthusiasm for the program.

dennisshows
dennisshows
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Thanks again to everyone.

Message 77915 in response to message 77914

Thanks again to everyone.

Is there an official BOINC developers forum on which I could post questions? I want to make sure we setup everything to be thawed for BOINC, but not allow students to use the space to put other files. What I've got so for:

C:\\Program Files\\BOINC\\ <-BOINC folder contains program and all projects.
C:\\Windoes\\BOINC <-BOINC screensaver

What registry changes are required?

Odysseus
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RE: Is there an official

Message 77916 in response to message 77915

Quote:
Is there an official BOINC developers forum on which I could post questions?


BOINC message boards

You have to register to post there; the site is set up just like a ‘real’ project.

hoarfrost
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RE: I don't want students

Quote:
I don't want students running BOINC hidden on other school computers (library, computer labs, etc), or bogging down anyone's computer or our network. Should I require certain BOINC settings? Any ideas on how to go about this?


Start it yourself! :) Really students must not have administrative rights on library (and etc.) computers.

dennisshows
dennisshows
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Thanks again for all the

Thanks again for all the incites and help. I've started my project now: http://boincstats.com/stats/boinc_team_graph.php?pr=bo&id=769072

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