Eastern Wake News

East Wake High’s STEM night takes on topics like ebola

Ninth-grade math teacher Donna Wade borrowed a Hazmat suit from a Rocky Mount company for her class's project on ebola. The suit is not what medical workers use when dealing with ebola patients, but it is close. The suit costs about $3,000.
Ninth-grade math teacher Donna Wade borrowed a Hazmat suit from a Rocky Mount company for her class's project on ebola. The suit is not what medical workers use when dealing with ebola patients, but it is close. The suit costs about $3,000. mhankerson@newsobserver.com

Freshmen added their mathematically sound facts on the worldwide ebola outbreak in a presentation at East Wake High’s School of Health Sciences STEM night last week.

The night, which displayed students’ various STEM projects, focused on catastrophes of all kinds – natural, historical and biological.

Students in Donna Wade’s ninth-grade math class studied the possible trajectory and growth of ebola if it’s not contained and the costs associated with treatment and containment.

The class had to find estimations of the cost of the disease, although that proved to be difficult and students had to reinvent their project a few times.

“When you create a STEM project, you don’t know all the answers,” Wade said.

She found a rough model of how the disease will spread if not contained. It looked to be an exponential model, which is what students recently learned in class.

She tasked her students with presenting that model and found ebola could make a huge impact on the populations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

On the other side of the school, forensics teacher Harry Thomas oversaw student projects that focused on how past events could have been solved with modern technology.

One project studied how the volcanic explosion at Pompeii could have been mitigated with better technology. Another project took on the story of King Richard III, who had scoliosis. He had a specially outfitted horse that he could use in battles and to travel.

“It’s certainly easy for scientists (to find catastrophes),” Thomas said.

In English classes, students tackled what comes after a catastrophe.

Students in 11th-grade English were responsible for establishing a memorial for a catastrophe. They had to create websites and a professional presentation as if they were looking for donors to fund the project.

Students took on memorials for major hurricanes and the San Francisco earthquake.

Angel Rizor and her group decided to focus on Hurricane Sandy.

“We knew everyone would pick Hurricane Katrina so we wanted to do something different,” Rizor said. “Sandy kind of hit and affected North Carolina (too).”

Groups created a website concept for a memorial and had to draft several documents associated with establishing nonprofits and donation-based organizations.

Rizor and her group created a proposal and sample donor letters.

Other topics explored at STEM night included the Bubonic plague, concussions and forensic sciences.

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