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Middle-school students participate in AMP Math CAMP

Middle-school students participate in AMP Math CAMP
Middle-school students participate in the 1st Arizona Math Partnership Summer Math CAMP at Grand Canyon University.

By Jonathan J. Higuera

The first AMP Summer Math CAMP coordinated and sponsored by the Arizona Mathematics Partnership (AMP) and its lead partner Scottsdale Community College will give more than 100 middle-school students an opportunity to learn and reinforce math concepts that hopefully will lead them to STEM careers.

The camp, which runs from June 22-26 at Grand Canyon University, is designed to impart greater understanding of math concepts, make the student campers more aware of math’s practical and societal value and let the students relax with fun evening activities.

The 103 middle-school students from six school districts are participating in the camp free of charge. AMP, which was established in 2012 as part of an $8.7 million five-year grant from the National Science Foundation, is covering the costs of the camp as part of the grant’s community outreach goal.

Participating CAMP students hail from Chandler, Deer Valley, Scottsdale Unified, Florence, J.O. Combs and Salt River school districts.

At the overnight camp, student campers will participate in math projects, including robotics, hot air ballooning and building birdhouses as well as classroom instruction sessions.

“It is well documented that students’ attitudes and beliefs about mathematics shift significantly in the wrong direction during their middle school years,” said April Strom, AMP principle investigator and math faculty member at Scottsdale Community College. “AMP is designed to build teachers’ conceptual knowledge of math and instill confidence in teaching it. We want them to be excited about teaching math to middle-school students so that we can begin to reverse the decline in achievement.”

The CAMP also gives middle-school teachers leading the camp a chance to use new approaches developed through their AMP professional development training.

“AMP helped me take my instruction from my procedural methods to a more experiential style that is more meaningful for the kids,” said Lynda Boepple, who has taught math at Copper Ridge School in the Scottsdale Unified School District for 18 years. 

Thirteen math teachers who have participated in AMP during the past two years will be instructing and leading math sessions at the CAMP. Teachers participating in AMP must go through 200 hours of professional development during a two-year period. They learn new approaches to thinking about math concepts that emphasize problem solving, sense-making, and justification.

In 2012, Maricopa Community College District received an $8.7 million, five-year grant from NSF. Among the 10 community partners, SCC is the lead organization. 

So far, 175 teachers from partner school districts in Arizona are participating in AMP.  When the project is complete, about 300 teachers are expected to go through the AMP training.

“An increase in student achievement during middle school will have a profound impact on students’ decisions when it comes to taking math courses in high school and college,” said Strom. “We have more than 100 students willing to spend a week doing math and over 20 middle-school math teachers participating as teachers and supervisors. How exciting!"