Each year I participate in Letters to a Pre-Scientist, an amazing program where you are paired with a younger student (5th-12th grade), and exchange 4 rounds of letters facilitated by their teachers. The letters have themes like "overcoming obstacles", but you also just talk about their goals and struggles, and try to encourage them to dream big. It's a super inspiring thing! My current pen-pal is passionate about math, dancing, puppies, and pizza.
But my pen-pal asked how big a supercomputer was. So I did the sensible thing: I emailed and got special permission to go into our cluster and take a picture. I have probably done stranger things for outreach, but this definitely was one of the weirdest. But now I can tell her "yes, bigger than a desktop".
I'm grateful to be working at a university that would embrace the chance to make a child laugh and learn at the same time.
And for the record, supercomputers are kept very cold. I'll be here with my hot tea.
Learn more about Letters to a Pre-Scientist, and sign up to be a pen-pal yourself, here: