Feb 242014
 
reflector

Kamelesh Panthi, assistant professor in construction management at ECU, gives a presentation on the science behind concrete during a hands-on experiment to students from J.H. Rose during the annual STEM Day events Friday morning. (Rhett Butler/The Daily Reflector)

Kamelesh Panthi, assistant professor in construction management at ECU, gives a presentation on the science behind concrete during a hands-on experiment to students from J.H. Rose during the annual STEM Day events Friday morning. (Rhett Butler/The Daily Reflector)

By Jane Dail

Friday, February 21, 2014

High School students from across Eastern North Carolina walked a mile in a college student’s shoes on Friday at East Carolina University, learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics curricula and careers through hands-on activities and facility tours.

About 300 high school students, mostly juniors, from all Pitt County high schools and Martin, Beaufort, New Hanover, Wilson, Cumberland, Nash and Perquimans counties visited the university for its third annual High School STEM Day.

Margaret Turner, event organizer and public relations specialist with the College of Technology and Computer Science, said the event targets high school juniors, who are in the midst of making college choices. Turner said the event gives them a better understanding of what degrees ECU offers and different STEM careers.

“A lot of students don’t always get the benefit of visiting different campuses, so we try to have a day where students that are interested in STEM degrees or careers, or maybe think they are or don’t understand it, can come and see not only the campus and also inside the classrooms and laboratories and also meet faculty and current students.”

Visiting students participated in hands-on session, including engineering, physics, technology, mathematics, chemistry, biology, construction management, computer science, geology, geography, atmospheric science and math education, led by faculty and undergraduate and graduate students.

“Rather than just handing somebody a brochure that they can pick up, it’s more interactive,” she said.

Turner said STEM Day is free to students and schools, which helps it become a powerful recruiting tool for ECU.

“The goal is for them to learn more about STEM careers and for them to consider ECU as a possible college choice,” she said. “Some of them, especially the more rural counties, … this might be the only day they see ECU. A lot of them have been for a sporting event but not really seen an academic side of the campus.”

Michaela Foreman, a junior at J.H. Rose High School, participated in STEM Day to further her understanding of what ECU offers.

“I always wanted to have a career in science,” she said. “I want to do stuff in medicine. I want to be a pediatrician. I just think all this kind of stuff is fascinating.”

Kiara Gardner, also a junior at J.H. Rose, said she her friend Michaela convinced her to attend STEM Day and she was glad she attended.

“I actually learned more than I thought,” Kiara said. “The first station we went to, it was regarding zoology and stuff like that — looking at different specimens of birds and fish. It was more interesting than I thought it would be.”

Gardner said though she is currently interested in a career in fashion merchandising, she appreciated the exposure to STEM the event gives.

“The more you interact with it, you kind of get a feel for the field they are actually in,” she said. “The hands-on experience, the fact that you can interact kind of sparks your interest in it, if you might want to pursue it. I think this should continue on so more people can get the experience we had.”

This year’s STEM Day is the largest yet and even had a wait list, according to Turner.

“We recognize not all are going to choose ECU, but if you get a handful of students where you spark their interest in some of our programs, then we consider that successful,” she said. “… It’s definitely a worthwhile effort on the part of our faculty to invest our time.”

Contact Jane Dail at jdail@reflector.com or 252-329-9585.

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