One such student is 16 year old Miranda Jaurequi. She found that she enjoys working out math problems, and now has an interest in furthering her education.
Miranda will be a junior this year at Santa Maria High School. “It’s fun. It helps get you thinking in a different way,” she said. “When you’re in math class, they give you a straight out problem. Here, they give you a puzzle and let you solve it. It’s more visual.”
The week-long program is just completing its third year and its founders, Cal Poly mathematics professors Elsa Medina and Amélie Schinck-Mikel, have found an equation for success. The academy, which employs a hands-on approach to teaching geometry and algebra by drawing pictures, solving puzzles and building models, gives kids a new view of an old subject.
On Wednesday, Cal Poly math instructor Rob Easton, who looks more like a student than a professor, taught the 28 students “The Mathematics of Doodling,” which let the campers sketch their own shapes and provided four spacial problems that surround their doodles.
Medina and Schinck-Mikel added a new variable to the formula this year by busing the students to the Cal Poly campus. The two previous years it was held at Santa Maria High.
Schinck-Mikel said the move gives the academy more resources — professors from the College of Science and Mathematics can more easily put on demonstrations — and it exposes the students to college life.
“Our first objective is to just have fun with math. The bigger goal is to get them used to the university,” Schinck-Mikel said. “Both Elsa and I are first generation college graduates. We want to open their eyes to those possibilities.”