TechnoQuest at ECU Brings Girl Scouts to STEM-Related Event

Girl Scout Laressia Steadman of Goldsboro, North Carolina, extracted DNA from a strawberry during the recent TechnoQuest held at ECU.

The College of Engineering and Technology, along with Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines, recently hosted TechnoQuest on ECU’s campus.


The event brought more than 140 middle and high school Girl Scouts from eastern North Carolina (ENC) to participate in four of 15 hands-on, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) -related workshops. From DNA testing to 3D modeling and 3-D printing to simulated geographic occurrences, local businesses, ECU faculty and students shared their expertise and passion with the TechnoQuest attendees.


One attendee was Laressia Steadman of Goldsboro, North Carolina. She’s an 11-year old with the Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines. TechnoQuest was Steadman’s first STEM-related event, but it was not an introduction to the components of STEM. According to Steadman, she loves “learning about the makeup of things in genetics. It’s one of my favorite things to learn in science.”


It was this love of science that led Steadman to a very particular workshop that showed the Girl Scouts how to extract DNA from strawberries. Working with the East Carolina University Graduate Women in Science, Steadman used simple laboratory techniques to help with the extraction. What did she learn?


“DNA, even though it’s very small, it is very important,” said Steadman. “It really makes up what an object or a person is.”


It’s this type of experience the event organizers were hoping the attendees would receive. According to Dr. Laura Novotny, STEM program director with Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines, the experiences would not have been possible without the workshops themselves.


“What is remarkable, though, and unique to this event, is the cross-department collaboration of ECU faculty and students that led to the rich diversity of STEM-workshop topics that were offered,” said Novotny.


More than nine university-wide departments and programs were represented in the workshops. The College of Engineering and Technology, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Allied Health, and the Brody School of Medicine’s pharmacology department all had faculty and students volunteering at the event.


This was the first time ECU hosted TechnoQuest, which is a specific event held by the Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines. TechnoQuest is traditionally held at Meredith College, but according to Novotny, an expansion of a Duke Energy grant to establish a second TechnoQuest made it possible for ECU to host the event.


TechnoQuest marked the first STEM-event held at ECU in 2017. On April 7, High School STEM Day will bring nearly 300 high school juniors to campus from across eastern North Carolina to experience and learn more about the STEM opportunities offered at the University. On this day, students will rotate through three of 15 hands-on, engaging sessions taught by current ECU faculty. Sessions will include engineering, physics, technology, mathematics, chemistry, biology, construction management, computer science, geology, geography, atmospheric science, math and science education.


The College of Engineering and Technology hosts multiple STEM events on campus annually. For more information about STEM events and camps, contact Margaret Turner at