FDU receives $20,000 from Time Warner Cable to promote math education in high schools
The Fairleigh Dickinson University Mathematics Enrichment Through Applications (META) program has been awarded a $20,000 grant through Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds Initiative. Connect a Million Minds is Time Warner Cable’s five-year, $100 million cash and in-kind philanthropic initiative to address America’s declining proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Using its media assets, Time Warner Cable creates awareness of the issue and inspires students to develop the STEM skills they need to become the problem solvers of tomorrow.
FDU’s META program has three objectives: to promote the study and appreciation of mathematics, to encourage high school students to pursue a degree in mathematics, and to educate students about possible mathematical career paths. Eighty students from local school districts in Hudson, Passaic and Bergen Counties in New Jersey have been served by the META program in its three years of existence.
Thanks to the grant from Time Warner Cable, the META program will enhance the scale and scope of its workshop sessions, which will run in both the Spring and Fall semesters of 2015 and will serve a total cohort of 40 students selected by teachers and administrators from participating high schools for each semester’s9-Saturday program.
“Our partnership with Time Warner Cable allows us to continue FDU's strong tradition of STEM outreach to area high school students. We are very grateful for the support provided by this grant, which will provide dozens of students the rare opportunity to interact with professional mathematicians and to study mathematical applications not generally taught at the high school level,” said Mark Farag, associate professor of mathematics and co-director of META.
The program covers three different mathematical topics. Three sessions are devoted to cryptography, demonstrating the utility of basic abstract algebraic structures and concepts involved in the encryption and decryption of messages. The next three sessions introduce the students to computational neuroscience, providing insight into the role of an applied mathematician in the physical sciences and the importance of assessing the statistical significance of conclusions drawn from a mathematical model. The final two sessions, newly added thanks to the higher level of funding provided by the Time Warner Cable grant, are devoted to graph theory, a topic which has applications in areas such as scheduling and GPS-routing. The final session involves presentations on careers in mathematics, a mock scientific conference poster session in which the students present their work, and a graduation ceremony during which the students are awarded certificates of participation.
“We will be able to add a new component, graph theory, and Stanley Huddy, assistant professor of mathematics, as a workshop leader to the program. We are also able to support many more students since the Time Warner Cable grant allows us to run our sessions two semesters per year, as opposed to the one semester per year for which we previously received funding,” said Farag.
Run by the Department of Mathematics in FDU’s Gildart Haase School of Computer Sciences and Engineering, META provides high school students in Time Warner Cable-served districts hands-on exposure to and training in mathematics. Alexander Casti, assistant professor of mathematics, co-directs META with Farag and together they provide student-centered laboratory experiences as well as theoretical and technical instruction.
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