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W.I.S.E. G.E.M.S.

Encouraging Middle School Girls in Enter Mathematics Professions

CONCEPT: Women In Sciences Empowering Girls Engaged in Mathematics and Sciences (WISE GEMS) is an organization of female faculty at the University of West Alabama (UWA) under the leadership of Dr. Venkat Sharma, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. The WISE GEMS mission is to engage middle school girls in enrichment activities that generate interest in math and science. The majority of girls begin to lose interest in mathematics during adolescence due to poor confidence in the subject, which in turn shapes their performances in other STEM areas. Furthermore, a recent study at the University of Chicago found that female elementary school teachers who are apprehensive about math may unintentionally undermine girls’ confidence, encouraging them to think that boys are better at the subject, an effect limited to girls only. This poses a potentially large problem, as 90 percent of the nation’s elementary teachers are women. Max McGee, president of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, said that one way of taking the anxiety out of math is to teach it in ways that make it relevant to students, such as explaining probability by playing Yahtzee, or teaching how to calculate a tip.

ACTIVITIES: The project will include mathematics theory and utilization. By using a wide range of discovery learning activities, students will explore mathematical theory through pedagogy based on participation and relevancy. For example, in teaching fractions, multiplication and division, Kitchen Math will become the delivery strategy. The everyday use of mathematics will be emphasized throughout the summer, fall, and spring semesters. As students become competent, guest lecturers from mathematical professions will be ask to facilitate activities relevant to their occupation while explain career choice to the participants. Included in the attachments is the preliminary plan for the summer enrichment workshop with topics. The topics and career activities will be implemented in the fall and spring.

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