Math in the Real WorldDecember 14, 2021
“I never thought there was this much math inside the real world.”
That was what a Jasper County high school student had to say after her experience at the University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB) Mathematics Opportunities in the Summer (MOS) program this past summer. Student after student made similar comments about the program that introduced Ridgeland-Hardeeville students to mathematics application in a variety of real-world categories, such as construction, finance, coding and even space.
Students also got to experience university settings at all three of USCB’s campuses, including instruction by USCB faculty, onsite lodging, and access to certain lecture halls and labs on both campuses. The program included field trips around Beaufort County that allowed the students to hear presentations by subject matter experts who complemented the instruction the students were receiving.
This summer enrichment program was funded, primarily, by a “last dollars” impact grant of $33,075 from the Community Foundation.
About the Program
MOS was an intensive, residential academic summer program for rising high school seniors enrolled at Ridgeland-Hardeville High School to provide them with a safe, productive, no-cost environment to study math with other students, under the instruction of USCB faculty. The program was divided into two 10-day camps, allowing for 25 students, in all, to attend.
According to Dr. Volkan Sevim, a USCB professor and head of the school’s Department of Computer Science and Mathematics, MOS was designed to offer a free opportunity for local students to be exposed to mathematics and the future possibilities a mathematics education can provide. Here were the main goals of the program:
- Inspire pursuit of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields with fun and engaging projects and experience-based learning opportunities in math, science, and technology
- Increase problem solving and analytical skills
- Build college-ready math skills and broaden understanding of mathematics
- Immerse students in college life and provide full college experience
Daily lessons integrated core mathematical concepts into individual and team projects. Computer science and biology projects were also included, and students were also able to attend lectures and tours guided by faculty and local subject matter experts. Lots of fun, extracurricular activities were included as well.
Several students admitted they had initially thought the program was going to be dry, but ended up having a great time. “The moment you’re there, you instantly like it,” said one of the students.
“The idea was fun, hands-on, students are engaged, real world problems are solved,” said Dr. Sevim. “Students are learning math and science and technology at the same time. And enjoying themselves with evening activities while experiencing college life.”
About the Grant
The USCB grant was an impact grant through the Community Foundation. Our impact grants are awarded in excess of $10,000 and are designed to make a major local impact through larger-scale programs and projects that benefit Lowcountry residents.
In this case, USCB has sought to play a role in improving academic performance in the area of mathematics – and increasing educational opportunities – for students in lower-performing schools. End-of-school test scores for last year indicated that high school students in Jasper County show a substantial deficit in mathematics.
MOS was created to address this challenge and to potentially put students on track to attend technical school or college. Students not only had the opportunity to explore the possibilities offered in the field of mathematics, but they were also introduced to a university setting and given an opportunity to imagine what an academic future might look like.
At the Community Foundation, we’re committed to improving the lives of Lowcountry citizens. Jasper County is an important part of our service area, and we were pleased to partner with USCB in this investment in the future of our region.