Picturing science at summer camp

Wildfire visualizations ignite young minds

January 30, 2024


This past summer, a dozen high school and college students watched raging wildfires torch their way across mountainous terrain, with plumes of smoke drifting downwind from the blaze.

No, it wasn’t the conflagrations in Canada or the shockingly catastrophic blazes that raged across Maui.

These students were visualizing results from complex wildfire computer simulations run on supercomputers at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The students learned and applied the same principles and tools of scientific visualization, color theory and complex wildfire dynamics that Los Alamos scientists use to research wildfire dynamics.

Hailing from diverse backgrounds — high schools and colleges across the Navajo reservation, New Mexico, southern Colorado and a historically black university in Louisiana — the students participated in the Wildfire Simulation & Data Visualization Camp at Los Alamos. They all shared an interest in how computers can transform the bits and bytes of data into engaging images and movies that lead researchers to unexpected insights.

Read the full story as it first appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican.