Middle and high school students compete for math and science awards
Milton Bond May 18, 2012
The Elizabeth City State University North Carolina Mathematics and Science Education
Network (NC-MSEN) Pre-College Program recently hosted the 26th Annual MSEN Day statewide
UNC system universities with NC-MSEN Pre-College Program sites come together annually
for MSEN Day to compete in math, science and Science Olympiad type competitions. Approximately
750 students, program directors, chaperones and volunteers came to the campus for
the competitions held from early morning to late afternoon.
The ECSU NC-MSEN Pre-College Program provides academic enrichment experiences in science,
technology, engineering and mathematics to more than 150 students in grades 6 through
12 from six neighboring counties - Bertie, Chowan, Gates, Hertford, Pasquotank, and
In addition to ECSU, the following universities participated in the day-long competitions:
Fayetteville State University, North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Charlotte,
and Winston-Salem State University.
NC-MSEN Pre-College Program sites select students from cities and counties in their
service regions. Teams are chosen based on student enrollment in math and science
courses, as well as overall grade average in those courses. Math and science competitions
are required to have three-member teams, whereas Science Olympiad type competitions
have two-member teams. Competing universities may bring up to 80 students to participate
in 26 different math, science and Science Olympiad type events at MSEN Day. In the
areas of mathematics and science, high school and middle school students competed
for state championships in sections ranging from sixth-grade math through calculus
and sixth-grade science through physics.
Engineering competitions also were hosted that challenged the students' ability to
construct straw towers, which were tested for load strength, and bottle rockets, which
were measured by time aloft. The highly competitive robotics event challenged its
participants in the design and programming of robots able to navigate unassisted through
mazes. Other MSEN Day competitions included writing, art and oratory in which one
of our own ECSU NC-MSEN students, Tabreah Tatem, a sophomore from Northeastern High
School, won first place in the High School Division.
MSEN Pre-College Program participants view MSEN Day as the pinnacle of the academic
year. Students are excited about participating in the annual event and spend the entire
year preparing. To compete, they use their knowledge from enrichment activities during
Saturday Academy combined with what they have learned within their respective school
districts. Milton Bond, director for the program at ECSU, has seen a number of middle
and high school participants in the MSEN Pre-College Program enroll at ECSU and graduate
with honors. As a result, he is confident of the program's success.
"MSEN Day provides our students the ability to showcase what they have learned from
their Saturday Academy Enrichment experiences here at ECSU and what they learn in
area schools. It's events like MSEN Day and programs like MSEN that spark and maintain
students' interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and
desire to attend college," Bond said. "The critical thinking and problem-solving skills
necessary for these events are vital for the 21st century workforce. We try to incorporate
hands-on events like tower building, bottle rockets and others, throughout the program
to prepare students for thinking outside the box."
Bond said the students earned medals for each of the 26 events held across four competition
sites on campus.
The NC-MSEN Pre-College Program offers a rigorous curriculum in mathematics, science,
communications, and career awareness sessions during Saturday Academy classes held
on the campus of ECSU. Students who participate at ECSU meet for 12 to 15 Saturdays
from October through April.
Participants for the NC MSEN program are chosen based their application, their grade
point averages and recommendations by their teachers. ECSU has offered the NC-MSEN
Pre-College Program for approximately 26 years. Approximately 10 ECSU faculty and
staff were involved with the program this year. Two full-time staff members coordinate
the program, while faculty members provide motivational speeches, demonstrations and
provide career overviews for the participants.
The summer program offers a preview of campus facilities as well as instruction in
the areas of math, science and technology.