The High School Mathematics Access Program (HiMAP) launched in 1995 at California State University, Stanislaus, has enhanced the learning process for sixth to 12th grade students in the university's service area.
HiMAP addresses the challenges identified in national statistics that shows students do not pursue STEM classes science, technology, engineering and mathematics with the same level of confidence and aptitude as other subjects.
HiMAP is a pre-collegiate academic assistance and enrichment program that offers tutoring and coaching in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, general science and technology. The program includes coaching sessions in mathematics, chemistry, biology, general science and computers; enrichment lessons in mathematics.
In particular, the program coaches participants on an ongoing basis to keep them competent and confident in their school mathematic and science classes. With activities and examples, it shows that a college education is within their reach, both academically and financially, and acquaints them with possible careers in mathematics, science and engineering with presentations by area professionals whose high school days and family background mirror their own.
Although HiMAP has been a consistent fixture in the academic landscape of CSU Stanislaus for 17 years, it frequently is improved.
In this spirit, the 2011-2012 HiMAP sessions saw the inclusion of an art and animation module aimed at sixth through eighth graders. This module was meant as a way for students to creatively apply art and animation to mathematical and scientific concepts. The intent was to leverage this enrichment component as a reward for students who finished their other work (assigned homework as well as their questions from the classroom during the week) in a correct and timely manner.
By the end of the year, participation in the art and animation module digital art lessons emerged as a way to bolster confidence in students whose interest in STEM curriculum was not high.
In its 2012-13 session, which began Saturday, HiMAP will host a series of modules intended to give students hands-on, memorable explorations into various types of engineering. The engineering projects will range from the well-known electrical engineering to the lesser-known audio engineering fields.
In the aeronautical engineering module, for example, students will learn not only how to craft the best paper airplane for a given task (strength, speed, etc.), but also will be challenged to explain their findings through empirical evidence via graphs and charts that they will have crafted from data they collect. What these series of modules will demonstrate is the importance of mathematics and the scientific process.
The most important goal of the art and animation component was to reinforce the overarching goal of HiMAP, which is to increase the confidence of the participants. Why confidence more than competence? It is because we have seen that when students have confidence in themselves, they are able to see mistakes as learning experiences instead of admissions of failure. The addition of the engineering component in the 2012-13 HiMAP sessions is bound to nurture this budding self-confidence and provide a hook to opt for STEM courses and STEM careers. Thus, HiMAP will continue to act as a resource, as well as to mentor and guide to students while providing the necessary fuel for the participants to pursue and persevere in their school mathematics and science courses.
For further information go to www.csustan.edu/math/Pages/HIMAP/index.php.
Sundar is a professor of mathematics and director of math grants at California State University, Stanislaus.