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Friday, July 10, 2015

High school students find their MathROOTS at MIT

Photo: Bendta Schroeder
writes, "Program aims to inspire female and underrepresented minority students to pursue STEM fields."

Tara Falt of Anaheim, Calif., with her math solution. 
Photo: Allegra Boverman

In a noisy MIT classroom last week, high school students eagerly speculated on the problems they might see in the team math competition they were about to begin. The MIT students serving as the competition’s judges passed out problem sets, shouting pleas for order above the din.

Out of the chaos, teams formed, and Tara Falt, a rising high school junior from Anaheim, California, was soon at the blackboard solving a problem.

Now the only sounds in the room were Falt’s voice, explaining every move in her solution, and the click of her chalk moving across the board. She had everyone’s rapt attention.

When she put the chalk down, both teams erupted into cheers. The judges awarded her full points.
The final session of the MIT MathROOTS program was off to a strong start.

Encouragement in STEM
Launched this year by MIT’s Program for Research in Mathematics, Engineering and Science (PRIMES) — an afterschool program for high school students — MathROOTS invited advanced high school students from underserved communities to develop their math skills at MIT. A total of 20 students spent 11 days — ending last Thursday — at the Institute, learning to solve Math Olympiad-style problems, as well as being introduced to special topics in mathematics.

MathROOTS was designed to encourage highly talented minority and female students to persist in their passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields through college and beyond; to give them a sense of belonging; and to expose them to the kinds of advanced math that will keep them inspired.

“I’m proud that MIT has introduced this wonderful program,” says Michael Sipser, the Barton L. Weller Professor of Mathematics and dean of MIT’s School of Science, which provided funding for this summer’s program. “MathROOTS offers the real possibility of changing the lives of its participants, and through them, their communities. I hope that it will become a permanent offering for future extremely talented students, such as the ones we had the privilege of hosting this year.”

Source: MIT News