Published June 30, 2017 This content is archived.

Summer program boosts girls’ math skills

An instructor leads several adolescent female students through an activity during the Summer Math Program.

Ji-Won Son, the program director for the Summer Math Program interacts with students during an activity session on July 20, 2017. The program was held at the Buffalo Academy of Science in downtown Buffalo. Photo: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

Release Date: June 30, 2017 This content is archived.

“Nearly every gap grows faster during summer than during school.”
Ji-Won Son, assistant professor of learning and instruction
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Young girls looking to improve their math skills, interact with some of the area’s most talented educators and add to their summer fun can enroll in the University at Buffalo’s free five-day summer camp designed to show students how math can be “exciting, beautiful and useful.”

The Summer Math Program, organized by UB faculty member Ji-Won Son, a nationally respected expert in math education for elementary and secondary students, will feature “fun and creative exercises” designed to help girls achieve in math and technology.

“Although the gender gap has dramatically narrowed in recent decades, women remain underrepresented in many science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields,” says Son, assistant professor in the Department of Learning and Instruction, UB Graduate School of Education. “Research has shown that it is at the middle school level that girls turn their attention away from mathematics and to other fields.”

Son says research also has shown that gaps in reading and math skills grow primarily during summer vacation. “During the summer, when school was out and non-school influences were dominant, gender gaps and achievement gaps among students of varying backgrounds grew largely.

“Nearly every gap grows faster during summer than during school,” she says. “For example, gaps in math skills grew across both race, gender and socioeconomic status. Thus, achievement gaps by gender and socioeconomic status form largely over the summer, when school was not in session.”

The program, designed for girls in grades four through 10, addresses this problem by providing an enjoyable, creative curriculum that supports and encourages their interest in math. The students will be introduced to mathematical concepts beyond what they would normally learn in their schools.

“The fun and creative exercises are designed to demonstrate that math can be exciting, beautiful and useful,” Son says. “UB’s Summer Math Program can serve as an equalizer to accentuate existing achievement and gender disparities.”

The summer math program takes place at three locations from mid-July to early August:

  • July 10-14, Enterprise Charter School, 275 Oak St., Buffalo.
  • July 17-21, Buffalo Academy of Science, 190 Franklin St., Buffalo.
  • July 31 to Aug. 4, Westminster Community Charter School, 24 Westminster Ave., Buffalo.

The hands-on, project-based, learning experience emphasizes personal attention with nine teachers, all accomplished educators with extensive experience in classrooms and in research.

More information, including registration information, more details about the program and biographies of all nine instructors and the program director, are available at the Summer Math Program website.

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