RENCI at ECU hosts TechMath Program

Local high school students experience a stereoscopic 3D image of the Grand Canyon on the VisWall.

June 18 & 24, 2009
Greenville, NC

Students use hand-held instruments to measure wind and temperature.

RENCI at ECU hosted TechMath, a STEM project for students and teachers designed to teach how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are used in real-life businesses and careers. The goal is to help students become more motivated and better prepared to become technologically-skilled workers.

This year, about 40 high school students and teachers from Roanoke Rapids, Durham, Halifax, Williamston, and Greenville visited the RENCI at ECU facilities. They experienced a demonstration of the VisWall, practiced taking meteorological measurements, and participated in GIS activities.

At the VisWall, technology coordinator Stephen Sanchagrin took the students through an aerial tour of the Grand Canyon in stereoscopic 3D. The students also saw high-resolution, "bird's-eye" images of the Outer Banks. Sanchagrin explained how these oblique photographs could be rotated to show all sides of a building, which could be helpful, for instance, to law enforcement teams looking for potential entry points.

Stephen Sanchagrin prepares students for the VisWall demonstration.

Next, outreach coordinator Michelle Covi took the students outside, where they collected measurements from many sites on the ECU campus and determined environmental factors which affected wind speed and direction, air temperature, humidity, and air pressure. Students also learned to calculate cloud base height using temperature and dew point. The small differences seen in these measurements on campus were compared to measurements taken by weather stations across the country.

Michelle Covi guides a student through a GIS activity.

Last, the students visited a computer lab, where RENCI at ECU director Tom Allen led them through some GIS activities. After an introduction to the geography, science, and history of hurricanes in North Carolina, the students used Google Earth to investigate real estate on the Outer Banks that is vulnerable to severe weather. Students located several properties for sale and used flood mapping to determine the likelihood of flooding during severe weather. Flood insurance rates could then be calculated based on the flood rating and property value of the home. Participants were able to map their own home or other locations to investigate their own severe weather vulnerability.

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