Girls in Mathematics Summer Day Program
Research has shown that girls’ positive attitudes toward mathematics decline as they grow older and that, starting in the middle-school grades, girls are less likely than boys to choose elective courses in mathematics and sciences. Also, educational studies show that middle-school girls may not realize that their preferred career choice requires coursework in mathematics and sciences. However, the good news is that, as new research by a team of psychologists at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee indicates, the self confidence in mathematical ability instilled by teachers and parents is more important for young girls to learn mathematics and science than their initial interest. As such, more attention should be given to building knowledge and confidence in mathematics ability early in girls’ education. Building on a successful history, the Girls and Mathematics Program aims to:
- show middle-school girls that the study of mathematics—too often regarded as difficult and not appropriate for girls—can be exciting, beautiful, and useful;
- introduce middle-school girls to a variety of career opportunities for which sophisticated mathematical ability plays a key role;
- emphasize the strategic role mathematics plays for success in STEM careers;
- build confidence in the girls’ mathematical knowledge through engaging and quality mathematical instruction;
- provide the participants with a support group and competent mentors who are successful undergraduate, graduate, and professional women from the STEM workforce; and
- ultimately shape the way the girls view themselves and their mathematical interest and ability.
The program was geared toward girls who have finished 5th, 6th, and 7th grade. Educational activities included creative projects, experiments, and lectures and focused on topics of divisibility, modular arithmetic, introduction to cryptography, introduction to probability, geometry, Fibonacci numbers, the Golden Ratio, and fractals.