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Middle School Sustainable Outreach Fun Activities In Math
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Middle School Sustainable Outreach
Fun Activities In Math and Engineering A 2 Year Case Study
Page 15 872 2
Abstract
It has been well documented that out of time STEM programs positively impacts the
students and facilitators involved However we have yet to understand the sustained
impact of middle school afterschool programs on its stakeholders RAMP UP
Recognizing Accelerated Math Potential in Underrepresented People a National
Science Foundation funded GK 12 outreach program at North Carolina State University
NCSU has established the Fun Activities in Math and Engineering FAME at a local
inner city middle school The facilitators of FAME were undergraduate and graduate
Fellows and middle school math teachers The objectives of this program were to re
enforce basic math concepts learned in the classroom and to expose the students to
several fields of engineering while involving in hands on engineering activities For
example the activities incorporated understanding the key principles of engineering
design mathematical estimation and extrapolation and how to appropriately collect data
skills which are clearly cross disciplinary
The FAME program was conducted weekly on a semester basis for 2 years Fall 2007
through Spring 2009 Quantitative data in the form of surveys were collected at the end
of each semester for the students involved In addition qualitative assessment data from
the facilitators has been collected In this paper we use the FAME program as a case
study to evaluate the sustained impact of middle school after school programs This study
reveals the positive relationship between the students and facilitators and improved
student and facilitator attitudes towards STEM fields throughout the 2 year period
Introduction
Participation in afterschool programs has been shown to be associated with educational
success including greater engagement in learning and higher academic performance 4
Programs based in the science technology engineering and mathematics STEM have
often shaped and developed future scientists For students to succeed in STEM fields
Jolly Campbell and Perlman3 suggest the necessary trilogy engagement capacity and
continuity Meaning students are engaged by having interests and motivation for the
involvement in the sciences student have the capacity or required skills needed to
advance in these disciplines and students have the academic support and material
resources continuity needed for these interests After school programs can provide a
vehicle for realization of this trilogy outside of the classroom
STEM based university and industry outreach programs have proven to greatly impact
the community they serve However sometimes university or industry supported STEM
outreach programs are comprised of a one day activity demonstration exposing the
youths to STEM fields Though great in their attempts these one day programs fail to
develop mentor relationships between students and facilitators It is this mentorship that
has proven to profoundly impact the views of STEM fields of the students participating in
these programs 1 We define sustainable STEM outreach as a partnership that maintains
fosters and promotes long lasting interests in STEM fields
Page 15 872 3
RAMP UP Recognizing Accelerated Math Potential in Underrepresented People a
National Science Foundation funded GK 12 outreach program at North Carolina State
University has established the weekly Fun Applications in Math and Engineering
FAME at a local inner city middle school The aims of this afterschool program were to
exposed students to several areas of applied mathematics and engineering by engaging in
hand on activities and reinforcing basic math skills while tutoring In this paper we use
the FAME program as a case study to evaluate the sustained impact of middle school
after school programs This study reveals the attitudes toward math and science for the
students and the mentorship role of the facilitators involved in the FAME program
Program description
RAMP UP
RAMP UP is a partnership between North Carolina State University and Wake County
Public School System that is funded by grants from the National Science and GE
Foundations The program consists of principle investigators an engineering project
coordinator graduate Fellows and undergraduate Fellows in science technology
engineering or math STEM and secondary math education The undergraduate Fellows
work with teachers at local public schools to plan and implement inquiry based
mathematics lessons that demonstrate the practical application of mathematical theory in
the classroom The graduate Fellow serves as a mentor for the K 12 students and
undergraduate Fellows and coordinates the program at their respective schools The
graduate Fellow also works to establish tutorial programs and clubs before and after
school helps with science fairs and coordinates family math nights to service the
community
Fun Applications of Math and Engineering FAME
In 2006 a pilot FAME program was developed at a local middle school Students 6th 8th
grade were recommended by their math teachers to participate Once a week for an hour
students would engage in hands on engineering based activities facilitated by a graduate
Fellow undergraduate Fellows and a math teacher Roughly ten students were
recommended for this program however maintaining attendance at times proved
difficult In addition the structure of the school day did not support the maintenance of
this pilot program The school day began at 7 30 in the morning and it was difficult to
retain students until 5pm when the school transportation was available The FAME
program was did not continue at this school
The structure of the school day at another RAMP UP supported middle school was more
conducive to administering an afterschool program In the spring of 2007 RAMP UP
launched the FAME program at this school from 3 20 pm 4 50 pm each Wednesday for
roughly 7 weeks The first 50 minutes were allotted for the tutorial where students
received help with homework and understanding core mathematical concepts and the
remaining 40 minutes were dedicated to the math engineering activity As in the previous
Page 15 872 4
pilot program students were recommended by their math teachers to participate
However unlike the pilot program in the spring 2007 there was an open invitation with a
permission slip provided by their teacher each week for students to attend this program
Thus there was not necessarily the same group of children in the program each week
More than often the same students would regularly attend On average about 18 students
each week participated in FAME during the spring of 2007
In the fall 2007 the FAME program was continued at this school and the interest for this
program nearly doubled to about 35 students participating each week The support staff
increased to 4 undergraduate Fellows and the children were divided into two classrooms
in order to have enough space for the activities In the spring of 2008 it was suggested
that each math teacher 9 math teachers total in this school only recommend 2 students
each week and the students had to provide a signed permission slip each week On
average 15 students participated each week in the spring of 2008 The program continued
at this school in this fashion each semester and on average 10 and 7 students participated
in this program in the fall 2008 and spring 2009 semesters respectively From 2007
onward at the beginning of each semester the Fellows took 5 minutes to talk about
themselves and their future career plans In addition throughout the program we held
open forums where students asked questions to the Fellows on any topic at the closing of
each activity Table 1 details the structure of the FAME program at this school
throughout the 2 year period
Table 1 Description of FAME from 2007 through 2009
FAME
Date implemented Spring 2007 Fall 2007 Spring 2008 Fall 2008 Spring 2009
Number of 1 Graduate 1 Graduate 1 Graduate 1 Graduate 1 Graduate
participants Fellow Fellow Fellow Fellow Fellow
1 Math Teacher 2 Math Teacher 1 Math Teacher 1 Math Teacher 1 Math Teacher
2 Fellows 4 Fellows 3 Fellows 3 Fellows 3 Fellows
Average number of
18 35 15 10 7
students session
Number of sessions
7 7 7 7 7
held
Algebra geometry and basic physics of motion and force were some of the topics that
the student explored During the activities students learned algebraic relationships
graphing skills and how to interpret data they collected
Hands on Activities
Activities were administered by RAMP UP Fellows In the spring of 2008 each
undergraduate Fellow facilitator was required to lead the students through at least one
activity The activities covered the topics of algebra geometry and core physics
principles The students were also exposed to the key principles of engineering design
learned how to collect data and how to use measurement tools accurately Many of the
activities were taken from math or engineering resources where they were adjusted for
Page 15 872 5
the time allowance or age group of the students while other activities were uniquely
developed by the Fellow Students also learned to work in collectively in groups and

.


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