Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center 

Advancing the state-of-the-art in high-performance computing,
communications and data analytics.

PSC Science Fair Resource


PSC encourages middle and high-school students who are competing in their local or regional science fairs to consider projects that use computational thinking and computational tools, such as modeling, simulation, visualization or data mining.

Computational methods can be a key part of a project in any scientific discipline, and can be integrated into any phase of the project — data analysis, visualization of results, simulation of a process or concept, etc. Your project may even develop new computational tools!

As a Bronze Sponsor of the Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair (PRSEF), PSC will award prizes to two students who demonstrate the most effective use of computation in a research project.



  • Is deer hunting in Pennsylvania necessary? 
    (Develop a predator-prey model using a modeling tool like NetLogo.)
  • Why does water expand when it freezes? 
    (Develop a simulation using a molecular modeling tool.)
  • Study the effect of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere 
    (Develop a model of the carbon cycle using systems modeling tool like Vensim.) 
  • Compare different types of IRA's
    (Do a financial analysis using a tool like Excel.)
  • How does a supercomputer work?
  • Why is weather forecasting so difficult?


  • To create relatively simple simulations of processes or concepts within your project, these modeling tools can be used. You can develop simulations that are either agent-based (NetLogo) or systems based (Vensim), depending on which approach is best suited to your problem area. Check out our CAST modeling tools
  • To create more realistic (and complex) simulations, try these tools which were developed and are used by PSC scientists working in biomedical research. Learn About MCell! 
  • Small grants of time on one of the PSC supercomputers may be made to students who demonstrate such a requirement for their research project. 
  • The PSC Science Book has many examples of science done using the resources at PSC. Some of these projects may spark your thinking about project ideas. For example: 

How are meteorological scientists making it possible to provide precise predictions about the location and force of severe thunderstorms as much as 24-hours in advance? 

What have cosmologists learned about how black holes influence the structure of the universe? 

 How has computational modeling helped to make possible the cleanest, most efficient coal-fired power plant in the world?

A Way to Get Started

Through the JumpStart program, PSC will come to your school and provide a two-hour workshop for students and teachers to introduce topics related to computational science and cyberinfrastructure, to get you thinking about possible science project ideas. These workshops will be offered beginning in mid-December. For more information, contact us through the email address above. If you would rather come to a workshop at PSC, let us know that, too.