|Volume 7, Issue 1 -
SPOTLIGHT ON TEACHERS
This summer, five CRPC educational programs took place at Caltech, Syracuse, and Rice Universities. Students and teachers attended the Caltech Summer program (California Institute of Technology), the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program (Syracuse), GirlTECH (Rice), the Spend a Summer with a Scientist program (Rice), and the Mathematical and Computational Science Awareness Workshop (Rice).
Because CRPC educational programs, including those mentioned above, have created a large audience of educators interested in encouraging students in math and science education, we have initiated this column. It will be a sounding board, a meeting place, and a means of sharing our ideas and experiences as educators with the CRPC research community. What better way to share our summer experiences with you than to briefly describe the programs, and give you a few telling remarks from the participants.
This summer, four women students spent two intensive months working with Caltech scientists as part of the Parallel Computing for Minority Undergraduates program. Available to minority computer science or mathematics undergraduates, the program involved students in research projects in the areas of parallel programming methods, algorithms, and scientific computing. "Spending the summer at Caltech working for the CRPC has been one of the best things I have ever done," said Ali Nielsen, a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering at the University of Utah. "I knew little about the process of doing reasearch and had never considered the idea of education beyond a BS degree. My experience this summer has really made me consider both of these things."
Fifteen talented students attended the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. This Syracuse-based course of study covered in detail the opportunities available in high-performance computing, and provided students with formative research experiences similar to graduate study. "The REU program allowed me to learn and practice skills that are invaluable in the communications field," said P. J. Anzalone, who is pursuing a dual major in newspaper journalism and political science at Syracuse. "It also has sparked my interest in graduate school, where I may focus on information studies and advance my training in computers."
The GirlTECH program, a collaboration between CRPC and the Rice University School Mathematics Project (RUSMP), debuted this summer with a roster of 22 K-12 mathematics, science, and computer literacy teachers. During the intensive four-week session, teachers learned to effectively incorporate computer technology, especially the Internet, into the classroom, and to encourage more young women to pursue careers in mathematics and science (see article "K-12 Teachers Learn to Encourage Girls in Math and New Technologies" ). "When I consider the amount of material we have covered and the things I have learned since week one, I get a good feeling, the joy of discovery," said Houston high school teacher Patricia Bell. "I'm also excited because my students will be the beneficiaries of this new knowledge I've obtained."
Twenty-three minority undergraduate students took part in this summer's popular Spend a Summer with a Scientist program at Rice University. Initiated in 1989, the program allows students to participate in university research and motivates them to attend graduate school in science, mathematics, or engineering. "I was introduced to a vast amount of technology, met valuable peer models, and gained experience in public presentations," said returning SAS participant Jeremy Lemuel Griffin. "More importantly, I learned how valuable it is for me to continue my education and to enter a graduate school program in the near future."
This year, 49 K-12 teachers and administrators attended the Mathematical and Computational Science Awareness workshop, where they learned about the many career opportunities available for students in computational science and mathematics. They were also made aware of issues of concern to minorities and women in these fields of study. "The Mathematical and Computational Science Awareness Workshop was beyond my expectations," said middle school teacher Botumile A. Ngoma. "It covered a large range of educational experiences to which all teachers should be exposed. Above all, it provided an important link between all levels of education and contemporary industrial needs, and also showed the symbiotic relationship among teaching, research, and industry."
GirlTECH Project Manager and Rice University School Mathematics Project (RUSMP) Associate Director Cynthia Lanius, who also teaches mathematics, is a mathematics support teacher for the Houston Independent School District, and works closely with me on CRPC education outreach programs, will be the regular writer of "Spotlight on Teachers." To submit contributions and ideas for future columns, contact her at (713) 527- 6076, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org . For more information on the CRPC's educational outreach programs, contact http://www.crpc.rice.edu/CRPC/ .
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