This summer the California Polytechnic State University has encouraged high school students as their Math Academy surprises students with fun activities. Not only did students learn more about math, but they received significant encouragement to continue their education beyond high school

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.

Math Academy Surprises Students with Fun

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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.

Math Academy Surprises Students with Fun

Click image to purchase book

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.”

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