February 25, 2024

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Argonne Expands Digital Education and Outreach Presence

Argonne National Laboratory is expanding its digital presence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education with two channels aimed specifically at students and teachers: STEAMville and a social media account that focuses on education. These new virtual programming initiatives, led by the laboratory’s Educational Programs and Outreach (EDU) department, will connect EDU and Argonne to STEM-driven students, teachers, and communities in Chicagoland and beyond.

Online social networks are a big component of how students and schools interact today. While other parts of the laboratory have used digital platforms before, this is a relatively new area for EDU, and we’re excited to dive into the field. By stepping into digital platforms, we can advance STEM learning to new audiences and influence the STEM growth of more students than ever before. And at the same time, these networks expose us to new perspectives on STEM learning that we can use to further develop our interactive programs.

Jessica Burgess, Outreach Lead, Argonne EDU

One of the new platforms being explored by EDU is STEAMville, a combination of a social learning network and a learning management system. Northwestern University has developed the network over a decade to give schools, students, and science organisations their own virtual space to share and utilise STEM activities. This creates a rich catalogue of STEM programming that individuals and institutions can use and apply to their own programs, while also letting different groups and individuals interact with each other.

The platform closes the learning gap by providing kids with 24/7 STEM learning opportunities, so they can engage in STEM anytime, anywhere — whether they are at school or home for the summer. By joining STEAMville, Argonne creates the opportunity to reimagine itself as a national educator. The platform allows Argonne to extend its reach and connection to young people across multiple states.

In addition, EDU now has its own social media account. Although Argonne National Laboratory has maintained its own account, EDU’s separate social media account will allow it to more personally connect with audiences and inform them about EDU opportunities — and for some, introduce Argonne and its research.

Furthermore, this account will build ties with other youth-serving STEM institutions in the Chicagoland youth area by providing an educational social media presence in addition to their main channels. This in turn will increase EDU’s presence in the Chicagoland out-of-school learning community.

For teachers and students who are interested in STEM but do not usually look at things related to Argonne, EDU’s page will act as a friendly virtual introduction to the lab and Educational Programs. Through these new outreach initiatives, EDU can create new ways to communicate with our audiences — both youth and adults — and welcome them into our STEM education community.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have been using AI to search through a vast number of small molecules to find usable drug candidates. Recently, they have utilised new computing hardware to speed the process, reducing searches that might have originally taken years to mere minutes.

The advantage of using AI is that it can quickly adapt to and accommodate chemical structures that it has never seen and that has never been synthesised and do not exist in nature. ​Artificial intelligence gives us both the speed and flexibility that pure physics-based computation would have a very hard time achieving.

In tests on a large dataset of small molecules, the researchers found they could achieve 20 million predictions, or inferences, a second, vastly reducing the time needed for each search. Once the best candidates were found, the researchers identified which ones could be obtained commercially and had them tested on human cells.

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