Baylor hosts mathematics academy to help young learners

Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 4:35 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) -Baylor students and athletes are teaming up with area teachers and their students to make a difference in their future.

Baylor is hosting kids from Waco, La Vega, and Midway ISDs for the Math and Early Learners Academy (MELA).

It takes a subject that can be hard for some kids and approaches learning number skills in a new way.

“They’re playing with soccer balls or whiffle balls, and getting an opportunity to really play but also meet the athletes and talk about how the athletes use numbers in their sports,” Sandi Cooper, Professor of Math Education, said.

Athletes are taking time out of their day to lead different stations. Each stop keeps the kids active while using a skill like addition.

“Their partner will spin one time and then they will roll it back,” Jensen Vienne, a freshman softball player, said. “Then they will spin two times so each time they roll it back, they add a spin.”

The day spent with athletes is just one day of a four-week program. Kids spend time in and out of the classroom.

“These kids are getting one on one attention,” Shelby Taylor, a senior elementary education major, said. “They are just getting hands-on intentional practice focused on what they know and what they don’t know.”

Baylor helps the kids look at numbers in different ways by counting, writing, and discussing where we see numbers in the real world. The hope is to create a foundation that will make a difference for the rest of their lives.

“Especially with this group of students, Pre-K and kindergarten age, they are kind of on the cusp of when COVID happened,” Taylor said. “They haven’t done a whole lot of anything in the classroom and learning at home is really hard especially if parents are at work or if they have a ton of siblings also learning it all at the same time.”

“It helps them be successful as they are moving forward even into their elementary grades, middle school so they can be successful at math,” Cooper said. “When they approach high school, we’re hoping that it gave them that boost where they can choose those more advanced math classes.”

It may even inspire a future career in STEM.

Cooper also says what you do at home makes a big difference.

Studies show working on counting and numbers at a young age helps kids have a good foundation for future math skills.

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