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Curriculum & Courses at ECU

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:

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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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 antebellum plantation site with associated slave cabins. Students will use remote sensing equipment such as ground-penetrating radar and excavate test units to determine the nature of the site. We will visit other archaeological sites as well.
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.)
Students will utilize modern engineering tools (Computer Programming Software, Data Acquisition Software, and Modeling Software) to design engineering solutions for robotics and unmanned collaborative vehicle applications drawing from knowledge in mathematics and the sciences.
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.
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.
In this course students will get hands on experience in working with medium to large scale datasets. Working with data has become an essential 21st century skill and in most cases experience is the best teacher. This course is NOT designed to be an academic overview of the field of statistics but will instead be focused on creating dynamic visuals and table summaries that get focused results on first hundreds, then thousands, then millions of observations. We will explore real data from health care, education and business settings and discuss what works for ‘small data’ and contrast that with ‘big data’. While discussion of some statistical methods and higher level mathematics is necessary, the main focus will be on the data. Time will be spent on manipulating, merging, and storing data along with discussions on the many different types of data and appropriate visuals associated with each. Students will also spend time critically evaluating data summaries and visuals that are encountered in popular news outlets, blogs, and other online sources. Students will also have some discussion of the elements of process and quality improvement and popular techniques in this area such as Six Sigma.
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.