Newly named Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Terry Wallace holds a piece of black quartz crystal from Pikes Peak Friday during a presentation to a sixth-grade class at Mountain Elementary, as he talks about coding.
‘Nobody does science without code’

The new chief of Los Alamos National Laboratory brought along something incredibly old Friday to demonstrate the usefulness of learning something new to a sixth-grade class Friday in Los Alamos.

A chunk of black quartz crystal collected on the 14,000-foot Pikes Peak is a billion years old, and only in the age of calculations from computers could he know that, Terry Wallace told Brett Hawkins’ class at Mountain Elementary.

Wallace, with a Ph.D in geophysics from California Institute of Technology and the recently named director of the national laboratory, told students participating in a global event this week called an Hour of Code – where students at all grade levels focus on computer coding – that determining the age of his shiny rock wasn’t possible without computer coding.

“I don’t know how to do that problem on paper…Nobody does science without code,” Wallace told the students.
He was introduced to mathematics as a student growing up in Los Alamos, and learned to “think in equations,” he said.
An introduction to coding – through games such as Minecraft and one based on the characters in “Star Wars” – will help them, Wallace said.