Statement of Need
For the past four years, The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS) has offered a summer enrichment program for rising 7th – 10th graders and has received almost three times as many applications as we have had openings. This is clear evidence that parents and students are seeking such programs. Furthermore, since the state no longer funds secondary gifted programs, we have concerns about academically-talented students maintaining their interest in STEM fields during their 7th and 8th grade years. We believe making a program like this available at the beginning of middle school, and continuing it into the early high school years, has the potential for having an even greater impact on students choosing higher-level STEM-related coursework during high school. Since three-fourths of last year’s applicants stated they would need some form of financial assistance to be able to attend, we are requesting financial support for students in need.
Throughout its 27-year history, MSMS (described by one visiting university president as “the state’s premiere mathematics and science high school”) has sought to provide a wide range of mathematics and science enrichment programs for teachers and students. Some have targeted specific subject areas (i.e., physics or mathematics applications), and some have targeted specific underserved groups (i.e., females and minorities). Virtually all have focused on high school students. But for several years, MSMS has received increasing numbers of inquiries about providing such programs for middle school students.
Parents report that their students return from MSMS camps with a new-found love for mathematics and science and an increased interest in academic excellence. We believe this is because our camps focus on high-interest laboratory experiences taught by instructors who are experts in their fields and have an intense love for both their students and their subject areas. The Summer Enrichment Camps also incorporate student counselors who are, themselves, MSMS students. These student counselors assist the residence life staff in the dorms, serve as lab assistants to help the teachers in the classrooms, and model an infectious enthusiasm for mathematics and science. Several of them have continued working with their campers, serving as online academic mentors.
This year, we will again offer two one-week enrichment programs. The first will run June 11 through 16 and will be for rising 7th and 8th graders. The second will run June 18 – 23 and will be for rising 9th and 10th graders. Each program will follow the same schedule, though actual activities will be slightly modified based on the skills and abilities of participants.
Although recruitment for this program will target rising 7th through 10th grade students from public, private, and parochial schools from across Mississippi whose performance in their local schools indicates they are “academically talented,” individuals or organizations interested in providing scholarships may target specific geographic areas for their assistance.
The students who return from this program will impact virtually everyone in their own schools because of their increased enthusiasm for STEM-related courses. Additionally, the instructors will encourage these students to return to their local schools and share their experiences with their teachers and will provide contact information to enable them to contact MSMS staff for ideas about implementing similar activities in their own classrooms.
Courses of Instruction
Students attending the middle school camp will sign up for three mini-courses from fifteen offerings and spend most their academic day rotating through these two-hour classes. The high school camp will have eighteen course offerings. The courses are all high-interest, problem-based programs that incorporate a wide range of advanced problem-solving skills. Final offerings will depend on applicant interest. The 2017 course list is included as Appendix A. Each evening, students work in smaller groups of 5 to 7 students, with competitive team project activities focused on communication, problem solving, and critical thinking.
By exposing rising 7th through 10th grade students to rigorous, yet fun, academic activities taught by highly-motivated and energetic instructors, we believe this summer program will result in students developing a vision for the exciting academic possibilities ahead of them. They will return to their home schools eager to learn more, enroll in more advanced courses, and share what they have learned with their fellow classmates AND their teachers. MSMS teachers are always willing to mentor other mathematics and science teachers who want to improve their classroom instruction, so a side benefit could be the re-energizing of mathematics and science classrooms across Mississippi.
Tuition for this summer enrichment program is $700 per student. We are seeking partners to assist by providing scholarships to high-ability students who can demonstrate financial need. If an individual or organization agrees to provide this assistance, they may select the scholarship recipients from applications we provide to them, have us pre-select recipients and provide the list and application details for their approval, or suggest another form of selection. Additionally, they may make their funds available to any student in the state or may restrict their assistance to students from specific geographic areas (i.e., counties, cities, school zones, etc).