Lowcountry middle, high school students get peek at USCB science, math programs

info@islandpacket.comApril 3, 2013 

USCB senior biology student Steven Vega leads a group of fifth- and sixth-graders attending SharkBytes in a hands-on demonstration of research tools being developed at USCB to enhance and analyze the recorded vocalizations of fish species that populate the May River as part of an effort to better understand how changes in marine animal populations potentially impact the area's ecosystem.

Lowcountry middle and high school students recently explored science and math programs at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.

About 80 students from Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton and Colleton counties attended "SharkBytes" on March 16 for a behind-the-scenes look at the college's education and research activities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, according to a news release.

The event, organized by faculty and students in the college's computational science, biology and mathematics programs, included hands-on tours of biology labs and a demonstration of 3-D brain image analysis tools. Students also built catapults to defend against zombie attacks in a lesson in mathematical modeling and participated in a mobile-app design contest.

Six students were chosen as winners of that contest and received a Google Nexus 7 tablet, provided by the Heritage Classic Foundation and the Verizon Foundation.

"We've been wanting to do a better job of reaching out to students and educators in the four-county region that USCB primarily serves, and SharkBytes was just the opportunity we needed," Yiming Ji, USCB associate professor of computational science and one of the event coordinators, said in the release.

The event showcased the university's computational science program.

"Our curriculum ... has been designed from the ground up to provide undergraduates with the skills in high-performance computing and 'Big Data' analytics that are already in huge demand," assistant professor Brian Canada said in the release.

According to USCB data, more than 85 percent of attendees said the event boosted their awareness of computational science, and they would recommend future SharkBytes events to others.

Canada is confident the event will boost the perception that prospective students have of USCB.

"You don't know USCB until you see it for yourself," he said in the release. "Every day, area visitors and even some local residents drive by our main building on U.S. 278 and have no idea that just behind that building is a beautiful campus with world-class facilities, bright and energetic students, and an increasingly research-focused faculty."

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