A Formula for Success
Minerva Cordero is working hard to help Arlington students discover a passion for math.
She's leading GK-12 MAVS—Mathematically Aligned Vertical Strands—which seeks to develop future mathematicians who can communicate complex ideas to a broad audience. MAVS researchers hope to produce model for connecting school mathematics to research-level mathematics at the University.
Funded by a five-year, $2.85 million National Science Foundation GK-12 grant, the program places eight graduate student fellows in Arlington schools. It is one of several that UT Arlington has launched to try to turn more students into math and science lovers—something we're in short supply of in this country.
"Every study that comes out shows that we have a shortage of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers in the United States," College of Science Assistant Dean Greg Hale explains. "We don't want to be in a position where we have to export all of our research and development. We need some home-grown experts to remain competitive."
The GK-12 MAVS project works to do just that by pairing eight UT Arlington graduate fellows with eight mentor teachers from participating Arlington schools. Fellows spend an average of 10 hours per week in the schools, learning teaching techniques and sharing their research. The first participating schools are Sam Houston High School and its feeder junior highs.
"The students are very curious about what mathematics graduate students study, and the fellows' presentations of their research are generating a lot of interest," says Dr. Cordero, a math associate professor. "The fellows enjoy it, too, since they are being challenged to enhance their communication and teamwork skills and to develop lectures about their research that the junior high and high school students can understand."
The project implementation includes a summer Professional Development Institute for fellows and teachers and bi-weekly seminars. The fellow-teacher pairs are grouped in Teaching Quads that, among other things, work to align the mathematics taught in junior high schools with that at high schools and then find connections with the fellow's research. The fellow's incorporation of his or her research into the schools and overall progress toward his or her degree is overseen by a Mentoring Triad that consists of the fellow, a research adviser, and a MAVS faculty mentor.
"We're working together to help local, underserved students succeed in math," Cordero says.
The GK-12 MAVS project pairs eight UT Arlington graduate fellows with eight mentor teachers from participating Arlington schools. Fellows spend an average of 10 hours per week in the schools, learning teaching techniques and sharing their research.