Texas Mathworks is a center for innovation in mathematics education at Texas State University. Discovery learning for young students is woven into a unique student-teacher training incorporating Math Inquiry Groups (MIGs) of undergraduates, K-12 teachers, university faculty, and administrators. Summer math camps, after school programs, and MIGs build a community linking university resources to public school needs. Developing students’ math abilities earlier is critical to their success in algebra and more advanced math. Mathworks programs are raising the level of mathematics for all students, while preparing our leaders for the 21st century.
Success in algebra opens the door for students to a variety of career opportunities in fields such as computer science, engineering, physics, chemistry, and medicine. Data from the state Algebra I end of course exam indicate that many students struggle with fundamental algebraic concepts, causing a roadblock to their future career choices. If the language of algebra were introduced at a much earlier level, particularly to rising 5th-7th graders, there would be a much higher level of success in Algebra I. Based on the results of the Orleans-Hanna Algebra Prognosis Exam, all students can succeed in Algebra I as early as the 6th and 7th grade if given the necessary background.
History During the summer of 1998, six school districts participated in a pilot Summer Math Camp program. Eighteen teachers from Progreso ISD, Donna ISD, McAllen ISD, Mission CISD, Rio Grande City CISD, and Port Lavaca attended the Math Institute for Teachers at Texas State University-San Marcos. Upon completion of the training, they returned to their school districts to hold their own Summer Math Camp. Funding support came from an Eisenhower grant.
Training sites were held in San Marcos at Texas State and in Mission CISD in the summer 1999. Teachers from Brownsville CISD, Progreso ISD, Donna ISD, Hidalgo ISD, McAllen ISD, Mission CISD, Houston ISD, Austin ISD, and Lockhart ISD were taught how to offer a two-week camp in their own school district. Two 6th grade teachers from Mexico also attended. Funding support came from a Southwestern Bell Communications (SBC) grant.
In summers 2000-2002, the program continued to expand funded by a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) as well as a second Eisenhower Grant. There were 488 applications in this FIPSE grant competition sponsored by the US Department of Education, and only 26 were funded! Mathworks is a national leader in training teachers and preparing students for success in algebra and more advanced mathematics. In 2002, Mathworks programs included over 120 teachers and 1500 students from schools throughout central Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.
From 2002-2008, the teacher training program and Junior Summer Math Camps have been supported by Teacher Quality Grants through the Texas Education Agency, as well as donations from the Kodosky Foundation, Siemens Foundation, Intel Foundation, and others. This has allowed the program to continue developing mathematical learning communities throughout the state. A new grant from the Meadows Foundation is supporting a curriculum development project that links the summer math camps to a full academic year program that prepares all students for success in algebra and more advanced mathematics.