Category Archives: STEM

Business camp introduces Pitt County students to STEM- and MIS-related fields

Twenty-two middle and high school girls from Pitt County recently attended a Management Information Systems (MIS) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Camp, which was hosted and managed by the MIS department within the College of Business (COB). Participants were chosen based on their participation in Pitt County School’s AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) program. AVID classes help students focus on academic and life skills that will help them be successful in college classes and in their careers.

The MIS STEM camp introduced area girls to STEM, increased their awareness of MIS concepts and career opportunities, and educated them on the MIS programs available at East Carolina University and the COB.

Twenty-two middle and high school girls from Pitt County learned how to code and build websites during a recent Management Information Systems (MIS) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Camp. (contributed photos)

Twenty-two middle and high school girls from Pitt County learned how to code and build websites during a recent Management Information Systems (MIS) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Camp. (contributed photos)

Donna Phillips, a COB MBA alumna and a senior economic development manager with Duke Energy, kicked off the STEM Camp with an address to the participants.

“The decline of females in STEM fields leaves them out of great and future career opportunities,” said Dr. Reed, a COB associate professor and camp organizer. “The MIS STEM camp was designed in an effort to address this issue and to make a small difference in eastern North Carolina.”

Introductions Made

During the camp, attendees networked with MIS alumnae from Credit Suisse and SAS, current MIS majors and current ECU scholars. Students were taught how to develop a webpage and how to write code. Then, the girls were put in small teams where they collaborated and used their new skills to develop a small application that addressed social issues, such as:

  • Women self-esteem issues
  • Hurricane relief
  • Health issues – sickle cell
  • Poverty
  • Bullying
  • Crime reduction

The camp closed with each team presenting its new application to parents, ECU alumni and COB faculty and staff.

Participants learned a lot during the three-day camp. Martina Stoecke of Ayden Middle School said, “I can’t really choose my favorite thing because everyone was very welcoming and all the projects were really fun.”

Joslyn Russell, also from Ayden Middle School, said she loved the programming portion of the camp. “Learning how to code has always been interesting to me because if you make one wrong move, it (the application) will totally glitch.”

 

Talijah Barrett, center, collaborates on an application with other MIS STEM camp attendees.

Talijah Barrett, center, collaborates on an application with other MIS STEM camp attendees.

Talijah Barrett of North Pitt High School added, “My favorite thing about the camp was getting to meet new people and see how coding can turn into your life career.”

 

The MIS STEM Camp was part of Reed’s involvement with the Engaged Outreach Scholarship Academy and will be included in an overall research project conducted by Reed. Fritz Robinett, the district specialist for elementary and middle grades science of the Pitt County School Administration, was the community partner for this project and collaborated with Reed to plan the camp.

“In the end, several students indicated they were interested in pursuing STEM further, which was one of the main goals of the camp,” said Reed. “I’m confident we opened their eyes to the possibilities of a STEM career.”

Current plans include another MIS, STEM-related camp to be held in 2018.

 

-by Micheal Rudd, University Communications

Thirty teachers from eastern North Carolina complete education graduate degrees

Thirty high school math teachers in eastern North Carolina recently earned their master’s degrees in education thanks to a unique blend of off campus, face to face and online classes led by East Carolina University faculty.

It was the largest graduating class in the history of the program, which usually only has a few students complete the master’s program for high school mathematics each year, said Dr. Rose Sinicrope, associate professor of mathematics education and a 2017 Board of Governors Distinguished Professor for Teaching Award recipient.

ECU faculty member Rose Sinicrope, left, and master’s graduate Anita Koen celebrate at the departmental graduation on May 6. (Contributed photos)

ECU faculty member Rose Sinicrope, left, and master’s graduate Anita Koen celebrate at the departmental graduation on May 6. (Contributed photos)

“Graduate level mathematics courses, which compose almost half the program, are taught face to face and it is very difficult for teachers to get to campus on time to attend classes. In the past, this was the major deterrent for many teachers,” said Sinicrope. “The second deterrent was North Carolina’s elimination of the teacher pay scale increase for graduate degrees in 2013.”

To combat those challenges, ECU faculty in the College of Education and Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences customized an off campus course of study to fit the teachers’ schedules as part of a revision to the undergraduate mathematics education degree program in 2013.

“We continue to work very hard to provide an education of the highest quality that is both affordable and accessible,” said Dr. Grant Hayes, dean of the College of Education. “There’s a critical need for teachers of secondary mathematics in our region and across the state. This is a testament to the hard work and dedicated efforts of our faculty and school partners and I applaud them for this achievement.”

The 30 teachers are from Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Edgecombe, Greene, Nash, Onslow, Pitt and Wayne counties. Twenty-nine teach in public schools while one teaches in private school. Teachers taught their full class loads during the two years of the program.

Graduation student speaker Anita Koen, math teacher at South Central High School and one of 30 high school math teachers from eastern North Carolina who received their master’s degree in education in May.

Graduation student speaker Anita Koen, math teacher at South Central High School and one of 30 high school math teachers from eastern North Carolina who received their master’s degree in education in May.

The largest number, 14, are from Pitt County, and half of those teach at D. H. Conley High School in Greenville. Renea Baker, the mathematics department chair at Conley, encouraged her fellow teachers to participate, Sinicrope said.

Anita Koen, math teacher at South Central High School who was part of the newest MAED graduating class, was instrumental to the program’s success since most classes were held in Koen’s high school classroom, Sinicrope said.

Koen delivered the graduate student address at the departmental graduation on May 6, thanking the ECU professors for support and creating a cohort just for them. “They came to us at South Central to hold class at times that were not convenient to them but were convenient to us,” Koen said.

Sinicrope called the group the “Miracle 30.”

“Few believed that high school mathematics teachers would be willing to invest in their careers without financial support and gain,” Sinicrope said. “Few believed that ECU faculty would be willing to meet teachers at their schools and on their schedules. It was a miracle that not just a few but 30 high school mathematics teachers, who sacrifice personal gain by remaining in the classroom, were willing to sacrifice more because they believe in their students, in themselves, and in ECU.”

Sinicrope said her ECU colleague Dr. Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi coined the term ‘Mathematics Teaching Communities’ as part of the revision to the undergraduate mathematics education program.

“The undergraduate program and the graduate program are connected with a shared vision of transforming high school mathematics for eastern North Carolina students,” Sinicrope said.

 

 

-by Crystal Baity 

Annual High School STEM Day Brings 300 Students to ECU

Nearly 300 high school juniors from across eastern North Carolina recently visited East Carolina University (ECU) to experience and learn more about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) opportunities offered at the University. ECU’s College of Engineering and Technology, the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Education, including the STEM Center for Education, sponsored the event and provided more than 60 volunteers.

Students rotated through three of 15 hands-on, engaging sessions that were taught by current ECU faculty and students. Departments represented included engineering, physics, technology, mathematics, chemistry, biology, construction management, computer science, geology, geography, atmospheric science, math and science education.

Some of the hands-on learning sessions included:

  • Learning about and how to extract DNA
  • Determining the types of clays that might be addressed on a construction site
  • Exploring how high-resolution 3D models are captured using a simulation of unmanned aircraft systems, and how to analyze and visualize environmental change
  • Using cryptography to send secure messages and how it is used in the military for confidential communication and secure online banking, shopping and other applications
Area high school juniors recently visited ECU for the sixth annual High School Stem Day. Fifteen hands-on sessions were scheduled that represented a wide variety of education opportunities available at the University. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Area high school juniors recently visited ECU for the sixth annual High School Stem Day. Fifteen hands-on sessions were scheduled that represented a wide variety of education opportunities available at the University. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

This annual event was the second STEM-related event held at ECU in as many weeks. Earlier, more than 140 area Girl Scouts participated in TechnoQuest, which also was designed to introduce STEM to the participants.

Margaret Turner, director of marketing and outreach for ECU’s College of Engineering and Technology, helped organize both events and also helped organize the five former high school STEM Days. Over the years, she’s noticed a very obvious increase in students interested in STEM. Not only does STEM Day introduce these students to exciting and interesting careers, Turner enjoys introducing these students to a university that can help them capture their future, STEM-related degrees.

“I see the excitement in the students faces every time they step on campus and into the sessions,” said Turner. “I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to let them know that if they do pursue a STEM-related career, ECU is a great choice to get them started.

Students Managing Students

Helping Turner organize this year’s event were three college students pursuing their own STEM-related degrees in engineering. Juniors Jessica Campos, Meagan Smith, and Malik Simon provided Turner with project management support. As part of a class assignment in an engineering project management course, they helped Turner with everything from volunteer training, the session schedule, transportation and communication.

“STEM day was an effective way to show how much detail goes into planning an event,” said Smith. “There were months of meetings that involved brainstorming on how to improve the planning process and ways to improve how the day would flow.”

Part of that brainstorming saw the introduction of social media to help with communication between all volunteers. The application that was used is called GroupMe.

Juniors Meagan Smith (left), Jessica Campos (right) and Malik Simon (not pictured) provided project management support for High School STEM Day. This marked the first time students played a role in managing the event.

Juniors Meagan Smith (left), Jessica Campos (right) and Malik Simon (not pictured) provided project management support for High School STEM Day. This marked the first time students played a role in managing the event.

“We had volunteers outside Wright circle waiting for high schools to drop off their students, and with this app, our volunteers were able to tell us what schools were here, where to meet them, the final number of students they brought and more,” said Campos. “Throughout the day we were able to communicate any issues that arose using GroupMe, and with everyone’s input, we were able to resolve those issues.”

“Throughout the day we were able to communicate any issues that arose using GroupMe, and with everyone’s input, we were able to resolve those issues.”

“Jessica, Meagan and Malik did a wonderful job in helping make sure we had another successful STEM day,” added Turner. “I think they learned a great deal about the many logistics involved in organizing such a large event. They were also proud to see the event happen and go smoothly and realize they had a large part in planning it.”

This was the first time college students helped with managing the event.

 

 

-by Michael Rudd, University Communication 

TechnoQuest at ECU Brings Girl Scouts to STEM-Related Event

East Carolina University’s College of Engineering and Technology, along with Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines, recently hosted TechnoQuest on ECU’s campus.

The event brought in more than 140 middle and high school Girl Scouts from eastern North Carolina (ENC) to participate in four of 15 hands-on, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) -related workshops. From DNA testing to 3D modeling and 3-D printing to simulated geographic occurrences, local businesses, ECU faculty and students shared their expertise and passion with the TechnoQuest attendees.

Girl Scout Laressia Steadman of Goldsboro, North Carolina, extracted DNA from a strawberry during the recent TechnoQuest held at ECU. (contributed photos)

Girl Scout Laressia Steadman of Goldsboro, North Carolina, extracted DNA from a strawberry during the recent TechnoQuest held at ECU. (contributed photos)

One attendee was Laressia Steadman of Goldsboro, North Carolina. She’s an 11-year old with the Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines. TechnoQuest was Steadman’s first STEM-related event, but it was not an introduction to the components of STEM. According to Steadman, she loves “learning about the makeup of things in genetics. It’s one of my favorite things to learn in science.”

It was this love of science that led Steadman to a very particular workshop that showed the Girl Scouts how to extract DNA from strawberries. Working with the East Carolina University Graduate Women in Science, Steadman used simple laboratory techniques to help with the extraction. What did she learn?

“DNA, even though it’s very small, it is very important,” said Steadman. “It really makes up what an object or a person is.”

Dr. Laura Novotny, STEM program director with Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines.

Dr. Laura Novotny, STEM program director with Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines.

It’s this type of experience the event organizers were hoping the attendees would receive. According to Dr. Laura Novotny, STEM program director with Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines, the experiences would not have been possible without the workshops themselves.

“What is remarkable, though, and unique to this event, is the cross-department collaboration of ECU faculty and students that led to the rich diversity of STEM-workshop topics that were offered,” said Novotny.

More than nine university-wide departments and programs were represented in the workshops. The College of Engineering and Technology, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Allied Health, and the Brody School of Medicine’s pharmacology department all had faculty and students volunteering at the event.

This was the first time ECU hosted TechnoQuest, which is a specific event held by the Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines. TechnoQuest is traditionally held at Meredith College, but according to Novotny, an expansion of a Duke Energy grant to establish a second

Learning more about physical therapy was one of 15 STEM-related workshops recently held at TechnoQuest on ECU’s campus.

Learning more about physical therapy was one of 15 STEM-related workshops recently held at TechnoQuest on ECU’s campus.

TechnoQuest made it possible for ECU to host the event.

TechnoQuest marked the first STEM-event held at ECU in 2017. On April 7, High School STEM Day will bring nearly 300 high school juniors to campus from across eastern North Carolina to experience and learn more about the STEM opportunities offered at the University. On this day, students will rotate through three of 15 hands-on, engaging sessions taught by current ECU faculty. Sessions will include engineering, physics, technology, mathematics, chemistry, biology, construction management, computer science, geology, geography, atmospheric science, math and science education.

The College of Engineering and Technology hosts multiple STEM events on campus annually. For more information about STEM events and camps, contact Margaret Turner at turnerm@ecu.edu.

 

 

-by Michael Rudd, University Communication

Taft STEM Education Lecture on March 27

Dr. Len Annetta, the College of Education’s Taft Distinguished Professor of Science Education, cordially invites you to attend the inaugural Taft STEM Education Lecture on Monday, March 27 pm in Speight 203 at 6:00 pm. The event is free and open to students, faculty and the public.

The College of Education is introducing this lecture series in order to ignite new ideas in teaching and learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The Taft STEM Education Lecture Series will bring international knowledge and discovery from some of the most well-known scholars in the field to Eastern North Carolina. The lectures will provide opportunities to ECU students, faculty, and K-12 schools to meet and collaborate with these scholars while increasing the visibility of ECU’s commitment to STEM education.

Dr. Orit Ben Zvi Assraf of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel is the featured speaker for the March 27 Taft STEM Education Lecture. Dr. Assraf will discuss taking a systems approach to teaching about human biology.

 

 

-by Terah B. Archie, College of Education

Inaugural Taft STEM Education Lecture set for Jan. 24

East Carolina University’s College of Education will host the inaugural Taft STEM Education Lecture on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. in the A.J. Fletcher Recital Hall.

Dr. James Shymansky. (Contributed photo)

Dr. James Shymansky. (Contributed photo)

The speaker will be Dr. James Shymansky, the E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor in Science Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

The event is free and open to the public.

The College of Education started the lecture series to ignite new ideas in teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM. The series will bring international knowledge and discovery from well-known education scholars to eastern North Carolina. The lectures also will provide opportunities to ECU students, faculty and K-12 school staff to meet and collaborate with scholars while increasing the visibility of ECU’s commitment to STEM education.

Shymansky’s research has focused on factors influencing student performance and how professional development activities for teachers translate into enhanced student attitudes and achievement. He is working on a set of online student materials that focus on Next Generation Science Standards, a program consisting of web-based, dual language interactive science modules for elementary and middle school children that can be accessed in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic.

For more information on Shymansky, visit https://coe.umsl.edu/mycoe/index.cfm?event=p2_profiles:viewProfile&sso_id=jimshy.

 

-by Terah B. Archie, College of Education

ECU biology students educate Greenville community through service-learning projects

East Carolina University biology students and faculty are educating the public through various service-learning projects within the city of Greenville. The activities, which started in fall 2015, are funded by a $20,000 grant awarded to the East Carolina Biodiversity Initiative from the Dominion Foundation – the philanthropic arm of Dominion, one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy.

In collaboration with Greenville Recreation and Parks, faculty and students in the Thomas Harriot Collage of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology have spent the past year working on various projects.

“The work supported by this grant is an excellent example of ECU’s emphasis on serving the region, increasing public-private partnerships and promoting STEM opportunities,” said Director of Outreach for the East Carolina Biodiversity Initiative Dr. Heather Vance-Chalcraft. “We are proud of our collaboration with Greenville Recreation and Parks.”

Through funding provided by the grant, ECU undergraduates enrolled in a service-learning plant biology course assisted with the removal of invasive species from public spaces. The idea to create and install educational signage along local green spaces developed out of the class exercise to remove the invasive species.

“Students in the course worked to remove an exotic plant species that has been spreading rapidly through the Greenville Greenways,” said Dr. Carol Goodwillie, associate professor of biology. “The idea of developing a sign came from the students themselves, as they became passionate about the project and wanted to educate the public.”

Signage

Each year, the Greenville Greenway receives many visitors who come to enjoy the outdoors while walking their dogs, taking a jog or run, or biking the paths that run along the Tar River.

Signage

“The new signage on the greenway provides visitors with information to facilitate their understanding of the value of the natural resources that occur along the greenway,” said Dr. David Chalcraft, former director of the East Carolina Biodiversity Initiative. “An enhanced public understanding of nature is critical to ensure the preservation of our precious natural resources so that they can be enjoyed by future generations.”

The signs created by ECU students now are installed and visible to the community. Two signs are located along the Greenville Greenway, one in the Town Commons and one at River Park North.

“The high quality signage resulting from this partnership is an asset to the city’s greenway system and to its citizens, educating greenway visitors on a variety of environmental issues,” said Director of the Greenville Recreation and Parks Department Gary Fenton. “We are grateful for the opportunity to ‘join forces’ with ECU’s Biodiversity Initiative.”

After such a positive interaction over the past year, faculty and students at ECU hope to continue work on collaborative projects with the city in the future.

–Lacey Gray

College of Education recruiting STEM tutors

East Carolina University’s College of Education is recruiting 54 paid tutoring positions in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

As part of a new AmeriCorps grant project titled STEM-Corps East, tutors have the potential to work with 1,000 elementary and middle school students in eastern North Carolina on improving and developing math and science skills.

Tutors will commit to 12 months of AmeriCorps service beginning in September. Positions are available in both public schools and afterschool programs, such as Cub Scouts, in Beaufort, Lenoir and Pitt counties.

Ideal candidates include ECU students, community college students, retired teachers and recent college graduates who have a background in or are pursuing a STEM- or education-related career.

Tutors will earn a yearly living stipend of $5,000 providing at least 900 service hours, and will receive an education award valued up to $2,887.50 to repay student loans, continue education or transfer to a family member (available for tutors age 55 and up).

Officials say many public school students in eastern North Carolina are scoring below levels 4 or 5 on statewide standardized tests that are indicators of having mastered prerequisite knowledge and skills to be successful in postsecondary education or a career. Only 25 percent of students in eighth-grade math classes scored at level 4 or 5, and 53 percent scored at level 4 or 5 in eighth-grade science classes.

For more information, visit www.ecu.edu/stem-corps or contact Betty Beacham at beachamb@ecu.edu or 252-328-4357. 

ECU STEM-Corps East is an initiative of N.C. Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service and the ECU College of Education in partnership with school districts, community colleges and community groups in Beaufort, Lenoir and Pitt counties.

–Crystal Baity

Brody women scientists, clinicians host workshop for middle-school girls

A couple dozen seventh and eight grade female students from three Pitt County schools recently participated in a Biomedical STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Workshop at the Brody School of Medicine.

The May 12 event was sponsored by the Brody Women Faculty Committee in collaboration with East Carolina University’s chapter of Graduate Women in Science.

Dr. Lisandra de Castro Bras, assistant professor in the Department of Physiology, works with student Kimya Boyd.

Dr. Lisandra de Castro Bras, assistant professor in the Department of Physiology, works with student Kimya Boyd. (Photos by Gretchen Baugh)

The students participated in basic science experiments, lunched with basic sciences and clinical faculty, and joined in a medical simulation at Brody. Faculty, post-doctoral and graduate student volunteers ensured the daylong event was packed with fun-filled activities, advice and support for the future scientists and clinicians.

“The students left with smiles on their faces. It’s very rewarding to know that we had a positive impact on them,” said Dr. Lisa Domico, teaching assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and chair of Brody women faculty.

“This is where we need to start instilling a sense of support, confidence and a need to explore academic options,” she added. “The day was a success and we…were happy to be a part of it and lend to the growth and exploration of the biomedical sciences.”

Dr. Lisandra de Castro Bras, assistant professor in the Department of Physiology, demonstrates a tool for students.

Dr. Lisandra de Castro Bras demonstrates a medical tool for students.

“My favorite thing that happened was when we got to pretend like we were doctors and got to solve a medical scenario,” said Kimya Boyd, a participant from Wellcome Middle School. “We got to see a simulation doll act like a real patient. It sweated and even trembled like a real person. This is definitely a field trip I would recommend to others.”

–Amy Ellis