ASU Camp in Lake Havasu Making Math Fun for Kids
Lake Havasu City, AZ | Submitted by Eric Aurand
As any educator can tell you, hands-on learning is far more enjoyable – and memorable – than listening to a lecture. And beyond the benefits to the learning process, interactive projects can help students better understand the practical applications of what they’re learning.
But that’s only part of the reason that the Arizona State University campus in Lake Havasu City created a math camp for local youth in 2017. Leading up to the first year, organizers of the week-long camp hoped to enlist 30 students, in fourth, fifth and sixth grades. But families in the community were so excited about the opportunity that they signed up 72 students, and had even more on a waiting list.
The camp educators disguised learning as fun and focused on how math impacts three kid-friendly topics: art, science and secret codes. Campers learned about everything from the Golden Ratio to patterns in nature and even more advanced math concepts, such as matrices. This practical, and intriguing approach, allowed students to glimpse concepts that they would see in high school, while also solidifying things they already know. And the learning didn’t stop in the classroom – every day students received materials and “extra credit” assignments that could be completed in the home.
The popularity of the program has encouraged the team to expand this year, by adding a week of science camp and opportunities for youth in grades 7, 8 and 9. Parents are grateful to have the chance for their kids to further their education, particularly in the summer months when so many children forget much of what they’ve learned during the past year. Open to any students in the area, Lake Havasu City residents and businesses stepped up to help students who might not otherwise be able to go, by providing dozens of scholarships.
And it’s serving multiple needs. By employing local teachers over the summer, ASU’s camp is helping to retain educators who might otherwise leave the area permanently. In a region with high poverty and low educational attainment, the camp is a much-needed resource, and it is helping to boost the math prowess of middle schoolers. In fact, eighth grade math is one of the key metrics for the Arizona Education Progress Meter. While 36 percent of eighth graders statewide are considered prepared to be successful in high school math, that figure drops to 26 percent for Mohave County. It’s math made fun in a summer camp to engage and inspire young people on their way to high school and beyond.