Sum­mer acad­emy helps stu­dents thrive in math

Record Observer - - School - By BROOKE SCHULTZ

CH­ESTER­TOWN — It turns out that math — specif­i­cally Al­ge­bra I — can be the key to suc­cess for stu­dents as they con­tinue in academia.

As a way to tap into that, Queen Anne’s and Kent coun­ties pub­lic schools are work­ing to­gether on a pi­lot pro­gram, Sum­mer Youth De­vel­op­ment and Lead­er­ship Acad­emy, to strengthen stu­dents’ math skills.

“It’s a pro­gram that helps kids be re­flec­tive thinkers,” said Rob Watkins, su­per­vi­sor of math­e­mat­ics for Queen Anne’s County Pub­lic Schools. “It helps them think about how to per­se­vere when they start to strug­gle and re­ally helps them build suc­cess.”

A group of 30 ris­ing high school fresh­men from Queen Anne’s and Kent coun­ties who will be en­ter­ing Al­ge­bra I next year were in­vited to the pro­gram, which takes place on the Wash­ing­ton Col­lege cam­pus.

The stu­dents in the pro­gram are what Marlo Cop­page, a math teacher at Queen Anne’s County High School, de­scribed as “bub­ble kids.” They fall some­where be­tween the ac­cel­er­ated stu­dents and those who need more guid­ance.

This pro­gram, she said, looks to boost them to the top tier while giv­ing them con­fi­dence and lead­er­ship skills.

“Over the course of the en­tire pro­gram, stu­dents re­ceive 60 hours of in­struc­tion,” Watkins said.

The camp is based on the Sum­mer Start Aca­demic Youth De­vel­op­ment pro­gram from Ag­ile Mind. Ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease, in­stead of a “math in­ter­ven­tion pro­gram,” it’s an “in­ter­ven­tion for stu­dent be­lief sys­tems and learn­ing en­vi­ron­ments that can have a pow­er­ful and pos­i­tive ef­fect on stu­dent mo­ti­va­tion, per­se­ver­ance and suc­cess.”

“We are teach­ing some math, but it’s dif­fer­ent types of skills — skills like per­se­ver­ing through con­fu­sion and hav­ing the mind­set that you can get bet­ter, not hav­ing the mind­set that you just can’t do math be­cause you weren’t born that way, in­still­ing a growth mind­set in these kids,” said Matt Carty, a math teacher at Queen Anne’s High School.

“We’re also hop­ing that they be­come lead­ers in the class­room, so when they’re mixed back in with the other ninth graders who didn’t take this sum­mer camp, we’re hop­ing these kids step up and be­come lead­ers amongst the rest of the group,” said Phillip Cy­gan, a math teacher at Kent County High School.

The day-camp be­gins with a four-hour ses­sion re­ly­ing on AYD, but Carty said stu­dents are not lim­ited to their desks.

“The pro­gram it­self has a lot of ki­netic ac­tiv­i­ties for them to get up and move dur­ing the day,” he said. “The pro­gram has ac­tiv­i­ties where they get up and do stuff and com­mu­ni­cate with one an­other. That keeps them en­gaged.”

The in­struc­tion also gives stu­dents hands-on ac­tiv­i­ties.

Jemima Clark, STEM co­or­di­na­tor and ed­u­ca­tor at Wash­ing­ton Col­lege’s Cen­ter for En­vi­ron­ment & So­ci­ety, worked with the pro­gram for a week on wa­ter­shed aware­ness.

She crafted an ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing week in­volv­ing build­ing aquabots, kayak­ing Rad­cliffe Creek and con­duct­ing re­search on the Callinectes.

“All of these tie to­gether as en­gage­ment strate­gies, some­thing for the rest of the camp to build upon, for ap­pli­ca­tions of some of the math and sci­ence things that the kids are do­ing in their morn­ing pro­gram,” she said.

The acad­emy dou­bles as a foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which the stu­dents will solve by the end of the pro­gram.

“The an­swer isn’t im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous. The kids have to use re­sources, go find in­for­ma­tion that’s not just given to them,” Carty said. “They have to be­come the sci­en­tists and the in­ves­ti­ga­tors.”

On the last day of the acad­emy, they will present their find­ings to their peers.

“The in­ter­est­ing part is there is no right an­swer,” Cy­gan said. “They’re go­ing to have to try to prove each other wrong based on what they found. It’s tak­ing you into the world of foren­sic sci­ence: You have to prove your point and make every­one be­lieve.”

Mercedes Martin, 14, said she was ini­tially ex­cited for the pro­gram, es­pe­cially with the op­por­tu­nity to go out on the kayaks and re­search ves­sel.

“I’ve liked it a lot. Ev­ery­thing is re­ally ex­cit­ing; get­ting off the bus to come here — it’s re­ally some­thing to look for­ward to,” she said.

So far, her fa­vorite part was con­struct­ing “aquabots.”

The stu­dents as­sem­bled the re­mote-con­trolled de­vices out­side of Wash­ing­ton Col­lege’s swim cen­ter and then tested them in the pool.

“It’s re­ally hands on, a lot to do,” Martin said. “Now that I’ve got­ten to see and learn new things, it makes me more look­ing for­ward to it ev­ery day.”

Bradley Reed, 14, de­cided to join the pro­gram be­cause math isn’t his best sub­ject.

“I knew it would help me in the long run,” he said.

He said that he en­joyed go­ing kayak­ing the most so far, as he likes be­ing out­doors.

Hai­ley Cox Pem­ber­ton, 13, was ner­vous the pro­gram may be bor­ing, but she said that that hasn’t been the case.

“I think it’s ex­cit­ing,” she said. She was look­ing for­ward to the rope course at Echo Hill and see­ing the new “De­spi­ca­ble Me” movie.

“For me, math has al­ways been trou­bling, tricky for me,” she said. “I think, now that I’m get­ting the help that I ac­tu­ally needed, it’s a lot eas­ier and I like it more.”

Carty said that the pro­gram hides the math within it.

“The math and sci­ence is not im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous to the kids; they know they’re do­ing it but in a fun way,” he said.

Hori­zons stu­dents en­joy a boat ride dur­ing a four-day learn­ing ex­cur­sion to Smith Is­land.

PHOTO BY BROOKE SCHULTZ

From left, Hope Judy, Hai­ley Cox-Pem­ber­ton and Matt Carty, Queen Anne’s County High School math teacher, work on as­sem­bling an aquabot, a re­mote-con­trolled ro­bot, made of PVC pipe, wire, a bat­tery and a pro­peller. The stu­dents first as­sem­bled the un­der­wa­ter robots be­fore test­ing them in the pool at Wash­ing­ton Col­lege.

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