To Monique Chyba, math is a beautiful thing. So much, in fact, that the UH Mānoa mathematics associate professor has organized events such as “An Afternoon of Beautiful Mathematics” and “Be a Scientist Tonight” at the Campus Center and local K-12 schools for the past two years, fostering the interests and talents of math- and science-loving youth throughout the community. Attendees explore mentor-run discovery stations designed and run by women graduate students and undergrads, and supervised by UH Mānoa faculty members like Chyba, in the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The stations, whose topics include robotics and space exploration, encourage the solving of hands-on math and engineering problems.
Now Chyba is one of the prime organizers of SUPER-M, an acronym for School and University Partnerships for Educational Renewal in Mathematics. Funded in 2009 by the prestigious National Science Foundation, the $2.8 million grant allows Super-M Graduate Teaching Fellows from the UH Mānoa Department of Mathematics to work one-on-one with state Department of Education teachers in grades K-12. The partnership’s goal: to bring top-notch math expertise into the public schools, and make high-level mathematical concepts accessible on O‘ahu and the neighbor islands.
SUPER-M has already made its way to Moloka‘i—with one Fellow commuting on a weekly basis to work with the local schools on the Friendly Isle. And, for the second year in a row, SUPER-M hosted Moloka‘i Math Day on February 26, 2011. Approximately 250 residents packed the Mitchell Pauole Center in Kaunakakai for the opportunity to tinker with robots, make and play with paper airplanes, create and decipher codes, have fun with gears, play with a deck of cards to build their math skills, and learn about polyhedrons and much more.
Through this intense partnership with Moloka‘i schools, teachers benefit from having the unique opportunity to focus on specific math content and frame their teaching within a greater trajectory. The program leaves students with a renewed interest in math and science, and gifts the instructor with new teaching resources. And the efforts of SUPER-M even have a positive impact on UH Mānoa students.
For example, about 30 Math 100 students visited Lanikai Elementary on March 4, where they designed and ran discovery stations such as Break a Code (cryptography), Role a Dice (probability), Build a Tower, and Beet per Minute for 200 children and family members who attended the school’s science night. While Math 100 has the reputation of being a notoriously difficult class for undergraduates, the UH Mānoa students thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to look at math in a more engaging way by designing the stations and mentoring younger kids. It was, in Chyba’s eyes for one, a beautiful thing.
To track the SUPER-M and other outreach programs from the Department of Mathematics, visit http://www.math.hawaii.edu/SUPERM.
For more information, contact Monique Chyba at (808) 956-8464 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top photo: SUPER-M Fellow Austin Anderson and Native Hawaiian Science & Engineering Mentorship Program Fellow Amber Imai lead one of the various discover stations, “Airplanes and Brains,” at the 2010 Moloka’i Math Day.