Math, Science, Leadership Camp is a Formula for Success

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During a four-week, free summer program, students in grades 7 to 11 study the fundamentals of math and the scientific process, robotics, environmental studies, service learning and urban design.

Teens explore college and careers through UW Tacoma summer program

[Note: this story from our archives includes outdated contact information. Visit the Math-Science Leadership Program web site for current information.]

For the fifth year in a row, a group of middle- and high-school students will get a second chance at math and science this summer through the Math, Science and Leadership program at UW Tacoma.

Starting Aug. 6, the program is a summer camp designed to strengthen the skills of students who might not otherwise have a chance to intensively study and succeed in math and science. Offered by UW Tacoma's Institute of Technology, it is targeted toward first-generation college students, minorities and other underrepresented groups — students who might slip through the cracks before they can explore their budding interests in science and math.

"We are helping students recognize and develop their potential to excel in math and science," program coordinator Adrienne Arnold said. "It's our hope that by helping them build confidence in their academic and leadership skills, we're setting these kids on a path to higher education and great careers."

In the four-week program, the students — in grades 7 to 11 — will study the fundamentals of math and the scientific process, robotics, environmental studies, service learning and urban design. The program stresses positive reinforcement, and the students learn about good leadership skills. Nearly 100 students are enrolled in the program this year.

Most of the 11th-graders have been with the MSL program since its inception in 2003. This first group of high-school juniors will focus on preparing for college, which is especially important since many of these students and their families have no experience with higher education. They'll also explore their career interests and the work world through internships arranged by UW Tacoma.

"Now that they are high-school juniors, it's time for these students to start thinking about applying for college," Arnold said. "Just by being here on our campus, they've already learned a lot about what college is like. Now we want to teach them how to fill out an application, write an entrance essay and apply for financial aid."

Arnold is setting up an internship for each of the twenty 11th-graders with a local social service agency. Leadership and volunteering are key messages of the MSL program, and she hopes the internships will help the students understand the value of giving back while also learning about working in a professional environment.

The 7th-grade students will learn the fundamentals of environmental science. Eighth-graders will study robotics, and ninth-graders will learn the basics of urban design by designing college campuses. Tenth-graders will study service learning, volunteering for one of three local agencies. All students will also continue to take classes in math and science.

In its fifth year, the program is showing signs of helping kids stay in school and consider college as an option. Surveys of students and their parents last year showed that MSL students are more likely to sign up for high-school classes in math and science than they were before entering the program, and they are more likely to consider a career in math or science. A majority of students involved said they showed improvement in math and science performance at school.

"I have seen these students grow exponentially," said Arnold, who is new to the coordinator's role but has worked with the MSL program for several years. "They are better academically, and they are learning to socialize, get along with other students and feel good about themselves. It's really cool to see them change."

For details about the MSL program, contact Arnold at (253) 692-4539 or visit the MSL website.

July 26, 2007