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Project could boost students' math


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POSTED: Monday, August 24, 2009

Several math aficionados hope to spark the same passion they have for problem-solving in public school students through a project called the School and University Partnership for Educational Renewal in Mathematics, or SUPER-M.

“;This will have a significant impact on math education for the state,”; said Monique Chyba, a University of Hawaii associate mathematics professor and lead principal investigator of the project.

UH-Manoa research mathematicians will work with public school teachers to help their students improve their math skills and better understand how math is used every day.

For instance, the UH math wizzes plan to ease students' frustrations and explain math with activities such as robotics, where students can learn how to calculate the diameter of wheels and how it correlates to distance. Math can also be incorporated into painting and gardening.

More than 20 people, including math professors, elementary and intermediate public school teachers and research mathematicians, attended the project's two-day workshop Friday and Saturday at UH.

A team of UH math professors was awarded a $2.7 million grant by the National Science Foundation to allow graduate students to bring their knowledge to K-12 students in the state.

The grant will be used for fellowships over a five-year period, assigning graduate students in math to K-12 mathematics teachers in public schools. A group of fellows will be selected each year to help students' performance, especially economically disadvantaged students.

An evaluator will then find out from fellows and public school teachers how the project is benefiting students.

Another goal of the project is to help the graduate students interpret their extensive knowledge of math to students.

Six fellows with backgrounds in math, engineering, technology and science were selected to be the first cohort to work with teachers from public schools on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.

Science teacher Stephanie Kamakeeaina of Lokelani Intermediate School on Maui, who also teaches a math class, said she hopes her school's math test scores will improve through her partnership with fellow Marisa Billington.

“;We have the passion for it, and hopefully they will share some of that,”; said Billington.

The other fellows are Austin Anderson, Tristan Holmes, Hye Kim, John Marriott and Jean Verette.