ECU to host high school students interested in STEM disciplines

By Margaret Turner
College of Technology and Computer Science

Nearly 300 high school juniors from across eastern North Carolina will visit East Carolina University on Friday, Feb. 21 to learn more about careers and degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The third annual High School STEM Day will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and visiting students will rotate through four of 15 hands-on, engaging sessions taught by ECU faculty and students. Sessions include engineering, physics, technology, mathematics, chemistry, biology, construction management, computer science, geology, geography, atmospheric science and math education.

Participants will see demonstrations on forensics and ink in chemistry, identify soil types in construction management, use hand-held weather meters in atmospheric science, use a photo-spectrometer in physics, learn about cryptography in math and demo robots in engineering. The day is designed for students to play an active role in each session, and they’ll travel to multiple buildings and eat lunch in Todd Dining Hall.

“This enables them to get the feel of what it’s like to be a real college student,” said Margaret Turner, event organizer and public relations coordinator for the College of Technology and Computer Science. “The students attending will primarily be juniors who are in the beginning phases of making college decisions. Learning more about what ECU can offer them is important at this point in their process.”

Many ECU students, both graduate and undergraduate, have volunteered to be group leaders and guide the students to the sessions. Their role is to answer questions, explain their own degree program and talk about their personal reasons for choosing ECU.

“They are the face of ECU on this day,” Turner said. “Their role is extremely important.”

Students will also receive information about the various programs and degree options they will be exposed to during the day, including the likely salary and job outlook for each. STEM careers typically pay, on average, 30 percent more than non-STEM jobs.

Honors College Associate Dean Kevin Baxter will speak briefly about the Honors College at ECU and the admissions process.

STEM Day is a collaboration by the College of Technology and Computer Science, the Thomas Harriott College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education.