The Institute of Accelerating Systems and Applications (IASA) was founded in 1994 in order to promote research and postgraduate studies in the Greek University system. It is affiliated with six university departments: Medicine, Physics and Informatics of the University of Athens and Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chemical Engineering and General Science of the National Technical University of Athens. IASA is the largest research institute operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Education (Greece). It has assembled significant teams of faculty members from the university departments along with post-doctoral associates and PhD students. The research program varies from Basic Physics to Medicine.
IASA has built up significant expertise in the coordination and operation of a production-grade Grid infrastructure through its participation in numerous EU projects (EGEE-I, EGEE-II, EGEE-III, GRIDCC and EGI-InSPIRE). The Grid Operations Center in IASA is one of the major stakeholders of the Greek National Grid Initiative (HellasGrid) and it maintains one of the official HellasGrid clusters (HG-02-IASA). At the international level, IASA held (on behalf of GRNET) the position of deputy Regional Operations Coordinator for the EGEE – South Eastern Europe region and it was also the South Eastern Europe’s Regional Coordinator for the application porting/support activity.
As for now, IASA is acting as the task leader for the User Community Technical Services offered by the EGI-InSPIRE project. Furthermore, IASA is the institute responsible for the development and provision of two EGI global services: the EGI Applications Database and the EGI-Inspire Software. The EGI AppDB is an international fully-fledged community driven web service, meant to act as a point-of-reference for scientific applications and tools available within the EGI infrastructure, which also provides a registry of scientists involved in the development of the mentioned software.
In Go-Lab, IASA is involved in the Go-Lab federation of online labs (WP2), Community Building and Support (WP6) and in the Implementation (WP7). The IASA team will offer access to scientific data from the ATLAS detector as well as to a series of interactive applications (HYPATIA) that will be integrated in the classroom practice.
The Lifelong Learning project “Learning with ATLAS @ CERN” (2008-2010) had a goal of bridging cutting-edge research and schools. The project demonstrated an innovative pedagogical approach that involved students, teachers, and the broader public in extended episodes of playful science learning. The project’s basic philosophy was that the learning of science is a process of creating knowledge by learners. Based on the effective use of ICT tools (virtual environments, visualization technologies, 2D and 3D animations, and simulation interactive games) the project offered a “feel and interact” user experience, allowing exploratory learning “anytime and anywhere”. It used both simulated and real data from the ATLAS experiment at the LHC – the accelerator flagship of CERN.
The project developed a pedagogical framework targeting informal and formal learning, and situated learning in real-world context. Further, suggested approach was piloted and demonstrated in schools, universities, and science centres in Greece, Finland, Sweden, Austria, UK, and Switzerland. A series of user-centred learning activities (demonstrations, workshops, info days) was organised in the participating countries. Further demonstrations were organised in other European countries with the support of the European Physical Society. All educational scenarios that resulted from the project can be found at http://www.learningwithatlas-portal.eu.
A natural continuation of the “Learning with ATLAS @ CERN” project, enriched with astronomy and space physics resources, is the "Discover the Cosmos: e-Infrastructures for an Engaging Science Classroom" project, which IASA is currently coordinating. Discover the Cosmos project aims to select a series of e-Science initiatives that successfully introduce scientific methodology in school science education, and to integrate these initiatives under a common educational approach. Further, the project develops “Discover the Cosmos Demonstrators” that can be widely used by the educational communities in Europe and beyond.
This project aims to demonstrate innovative ways to involve teachers and students in e-Science through the use of existing e-Infrastructures in order to spark young people’s interest in science and in following scientific careers by: (1) demonstrating effective community building between researchers, teachers and students, (2) demonstrating effective integration of science education with e-Infrastructures through a monitored-for-impact use of e-Science activities, and (3) developing a roadmap that will include guidelines for the design and implementation of effective educational and outreach activities. These activities could act as a reference to be adapted for stakeholders in both scientific research outreach and science education policy.