Fifth-grader Shaolin Russell didn’t immediately understand the connection between science, math and a king snake.
“I was nervous,” she said. “I don’t know. It was just kind of ewww.”
But in the end, given the opportunity to touch the snake as workers with the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores held it, she closed her eyes, scrunched up her face and tentatively reached out with her two fingers for a gentle rub.
“It felt OK,” she said.
Russell was among the fourth- and fifth-graders from Roger Bell and Graham A. Barden elementary schools who participated in a career day at Havelock Middle School and Early College EAST. The focus was on science, technology, engineering and math careers.
Chesson O’Briant, a special activities instructor with the N.C. Aquarium, said while science and math may not seem important in their world of fish, crabs, birds and reptiles, it’s crucial for biologists to know math as they collect data that deals with animal populations.
“A lot of mathematics goes into it to make sure that we don’t overfish them,” he said.
The students went through several stations while touring the schools. At one stop, they were tasked with building a tower out of 10 pipe cleaners.
“It exposes them to careers that they don’t normally get to see,” Jane Brown, fifth-grade teacher at Roger Bell Elementary, said of the career day. “A lot of times, they don’t get to see the connection between education and what is required to get into these careers.”
At another stop, the students were allowed to send marbles down roller coasters created from cardboard paper and tape.
“It’s cool,” fifth-grader Alycia Harrington said.
Along with being cool, it was educational.
“We learned that different heights make the marble go faster,” fifth-grader Hailey Holt-Cortright said.
Early College EAST instructor Erin Bingham explained to the students that triangles are used to support roller coasters and bridges because they are the strongest shapes.
“I really think they can get inspired in math and science at an early age,” Bingham said. “Sometimes they get to middle school or high school, and they say math and science is hard. This gets them encouraged and inspires them from an early age.”