SVSM supplements high school and university courses, taking students beyond the traditional boundaries of high school science and mathematics. A distinguished faculty of university professors and master high school teachers, working in cooperation with science and mathematics professionals from other institutions, government and industry, guides students through an academic program specially designed to provide experience in scientific inquiry and mathematical problem-solving. Specifically, students learn experimental design, laboratory skills, instrumentation, mathematical modeling, strategies in mathematical problem-solving and exploratory data analysis. Moreover, the students learn these basics while engaged in specific scientific and mathematical topics of interest to them. They also learn about computer applications, careers in science and mathematics, social issues related to science, and communication skills for mathematics and science competitions.
Each university may have areas of special interest due to their location or facilities. At East Carolina University, students that are particularly interested in medicine have the opportunity to attend the School of Medicine. This is highly competitive, of course, and it is an honor to be selected to fill one of the usually not more than sixteen positions available.
Some of the courses that have been or may be offered at East Carolina University include:
Alternative Programming - This course introduces students to using uncommon programming languages not likely to be seen in the usual high school curriculum. These uncommon languages are often adapted to special purposes to learn programming concepts. Previous programming experience is neither needed nor required.
Chemistry in Life - This course will focus on the discovery of chemistry in the everyday world around us. Students will first be introduced to general principles of chemistry. They will perform experiments to learn fundamental laboratory techniques which then can be used to investigate the chemistry of natural products.
Cell Biology - In this course students will learn the fundamental principles of cell biology, and gain hands-on laboratory experience using basic cell culture techniques to evaluate how cells develop, function, communicate, control their activities and eventually die.
Physics - "Energy Resources and Our World" Students will learn about energy and explore our energy resources and their environmental impacts. Students will also examine alternate and renewable resources and learn about their environmental impacts..
Problem Solving and Number Theory - The emphasis of this course is on encouraging students to make discoveries and devise strategies to reach solutions. Topics come from everyday problems, experiences in math and science courses, and from math games. Students are also introduced to interesting problems that are solvable by a variety of non-routine methods. These lead naturally to the study of important concepts in number theory and underlying mathematical principles.
Archaeology – This course provides students the opportunity to learn basic archaeological field techniques such as excavation, remote sensing, surveying, mapping, data recording, and preliminary laboratory procedures, as well as the reasoning that guides their use. This year's project will be investigating an early colonial/late prehistoric Indian site. Students will excavate shovel tests to determine the extent of the site as well as a couple of larger excavation units to assess the site's stratigraphy.
DNA Fingerprinting - Students will learn techniques used in the field of recombinant DNA technology (cloning, gel electrophoresis, DNA extraction, Polymerase Chain Reaction). They will also learn about DNA fingerprinting and experiment the techniques using their own DNA.
Biomedical Research - Each student works with a team composed of an ECU faculty member, graduate and undergraduate students and technicians. The team works on individual research projects during the four-week period. Each student prepares a paper as part of the work during the four weeks. (Note: Students that indicate medicine as a first choice and who do not get assigned to the Biomedical research experience should be aware that dozens of students are planning some type of medical career and there is room for only a few students in this program.)
Explorations in Engineering– Students will utilize modern engineering tools (CAD, Finite Element Analysis Software, Data Acquisition Software, and Rapid Prototyping) to relate engineering applications such as product design and robotics to concepts in mathematics and science.
Atmospheric Science – This course in Atmospheric Science emphasizes hands-on meteorology. Students will not only learn the basic physics of weather elements, which are the thermodynamic and dynamic properties of the Earth’s atmosphere (pressure, temperature, humidity, wind velocity and precipitation) and radiative forcing of weather and climate processes (solar and terrestrial radiation), they will also learn the basic principles of meteorological instruments and how to use them to measure these weather elements in the field. Examples of laboratory and field projects include the greenhouse effect, urban heat islands, effects of clouds on solar and terrestrial radiation, comparison of rain measurements by rain gauges and Doppler radar. In addition, students will learn basic graphical and statistical tools to analyze the weather data they collect and to present the relationships they find between different weather elements.
Graph, Groups and Games -Topics discussed will include, but may not be limited to, map coloring, graph embedding, directed graphs and the King Chicken Theorems, different graph algorithms, and Ramsey theory. Students will become familiar with typical proof techniques in graph theory. Some unsolved problems are also discussed to demonstrate the vitality of mathematics. How many different ways are there to color the faces of a cube with three colors available, up to symmetry? How many patterns are possible on Rubik's Cube? How can you tell which way to flip your mattress next? What's the remainder when you divide 10^2012 by 17? All of these questions can be answered by looking at what they have in common --- group theory! We'll learn about groups of various types, prove a few things (Lagrange's Theorem, Burnside's Lemma, Fermat's Little Theorem, Sylow's First Theorem) and learn how to exploit group theory to win games and solve puzzles. And we'll see some more unsolved problems.