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ECU teacher training yields national award for students

(Dec. 19, 2003)   —   East Carolina University's efforts to show teachers how to teach science and math by using computer models have paid off.

As a result of the training expertise offered at conferences through the National Computational Science Leadership Program (NCSLP), the students of a science teacher who participated in the training were awarded $100,000 from the national Siemens Westinghouse Science Competition for producing a display about West Nile Virus. ECU is the lead partner in the NCSLP.

Taking a page from their teacher's training through the program, Jeff and Mark Schneider of South Windsor High School in Connecticut developed a so-called computer model using "STELLA" software to discuss and explain the spread of West Nile Virus.

Upon returning from a two-week training event offered through the NCSLP, South Windsor High School science teacher Dave White integrated the computational academic model in his chemistry class and the brothers decided to adapt it to their West Nile Virus project. The Schneiders went on to take top place in the team division of the Siemens Westinghouse competition.

Jeff Huskamp, principal investigator for the NSF grant and ECU's Chief Information Officer, said he was thrilled to know that the models taught to the science teachers had such a positive yield.

"With these kinds of things, you train the teachers and hope something happens in their classrooms, but you usually don't know if anything takes place, if they're actually teaching the models," he said. "But with this, we know there was a direct correlation to what we taught during the training and it had a very positive outcome."

White, the brothers' chemistry teacher and mentor, told the Hartford Courant that his students' accomplishment was a dream come true.

"I'm so proud of them. It's been extremely exciting watching the boys presenting their project on stage. They did a tremendous job," White said. "It's one of those dreams of a teacher, a mentor's dream, to see them win."

In 2000, the National Computational Science Education Consortium (NCSEC) that established the NCSLP was awarded a $1.13 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop strategies to improve delivery methods of math and science in the nation's public schools. From 2000 - 2002, more than 200 high school teachers from across the country were introduced to strategies that would help them to integrate computational science and math into their classrooms. The program allowed the teachers to attend a supercomputing conference and a two-week summer institute, where the STELLA (Structural Thinking Experiential Learning Laboratory with Animation) computer model was taught.

ECU faculty and staff who participated in the grant include: Ernie Marshburn (co-principal investigator), Wendy Creasey, Frances Hutchinson, Sandra Huskamp, Dionna Manning, Jennifer Farris Raby, Ginny Zeeman Sconiers, Jo Lynne Daughtry, Kevin Johnson, David Karnowski, and Mike Tate. Helen Parke of the College of Education faculty served as one of the grant's co-principal investigators. Ken Flurchick of the Physics Department also participated in the grant.

Other National Computational Science Education Consortium partners for the grant are: Association of Computing Machinery, IEEE Computer Society, Krell Institute, National Center for Atmospheric Research, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, NPACI/San Diego Supercomputer Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Shodor Education Foundation, Inc., Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

For more information about the National Computational Science Leadership Program, visit


Contact: ECU News Bureau | 252-328-6481