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Sometimes summer math fun for girls takes some gimmicks and imagination.

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At California State University Fullerton, the summer math program for high school girls is a lively place. One morning they somehow became a dragon.  other mornings they wore Minnie Mouse Ears, costumes and tie-die T-shirts. There are theme days, and they form teams with names like Math Pi-rates and Mischievous  Mathematicians.

But there is more to this program than gimmicks. Many times, the girls are naturally curious, and know that the activities are fun.  They are eager to unlock career opportunities and the power of mathematics.

The 48 girls from 28 high schools are getting a leg up on pursuing carers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at Project MISS (Mathematics Intensive Summer Session).

The program was founded in 1990 by math professor David Pagni.  He still directs it, and is satisfied when he sees former participants return as tutors or guest speakers, or teach math locally.

“While they’re in high school, we send them a birthday card every year with a little math problem on it,” Pagni said. “That helps us keep track of them in case they move. We try to find out where they went to college. … That’s how we can say that 98 percent go to college.”


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