2019 Camp RAM - Math Camp led by High School Students
Camp RAM was a free, week-long math camp led by high school students geared toward incoming sixth graders between June 10th and June 13th, 2019 at T. H. Rogers Middle School. The goal of this initiative was to foster an interest in math while also improving critical thinking skills by adopting various teaching strategies, such as lecturing, group activities, and peer teaching. Preparations for the camp began in April, starting with the formulation of lesson plans and familiarization with a curriculum based on Mathworks Camp-in-A-Box Level 1 and Level 2.
To tailor the Mathworks curriculum to her students’ specific needs, Annie Zhu, the president of the program, consulted with Victoria Simmons, a 6th Grade Pre-AP vanguard math teacher, covering details such as camper recruitment and classroom content. “The MathQuest materials are very comprehensive. It has a lot of engaging activities and practice exercises for the kids to enjoy this summer,” Ms. Simmons remarked. “This will help them understand math very well.”
Moreover, this camp served as a valuable learning experience to its volunteers. “Because it is challenging for 11 years-old children to focus on math for 4 straight hours, Annie and I structure the class schedule so that breaks are inserted between certain activities,” recalled Shirley Zhu, the vice-president of the project. She pointed out that teaching isn’t merely showing students how to solve problems, but it is also motivating students try problems themselves. Therefore, the volunteers incorporated competitive games, dividing students into groups, presenting problems for them to solve together, and awarding points to teams who solved them accurately. Not only did this tactic regain the students’ attention after a break, but it also taught them the significance of teamwork in relation to mathematics. “Ultimately, our goal is to guide the students to self-discovery,” noted Annie. “So, it was incredibly rewarding to witness the students’ joy when they solved questions correctly and understood the material deeply.”
At the end of every day during Camp RAM, a recap email was sent out to parents, summarizing that day’s lesson and outlining the next day’s plans. Once the program ended, parents requested for another camp in August so that the students could refresh their memory on the material right before school started. Although Camp RAM could not meet that request due to the limited availability of the facility, future projects will be planned at T.H. Rogers. “I want to express my gratitude to Annie Zhu and Shirley Zhu and commend them on their leadership,” said Tiffany M. Chenier, the principal of T.H. Rogers School.
In the fall, the volunteers planned to expand RAM in Houston Independent School District in the form of workshops. Annie Zhu and Shirley Zhu attended HISD regular board meeting on August 8th and spoke at the Hearing of Citizen about the plan. They received a grant from GO Neighborhoods Program by the end of August to run the project in the OST/ South Union Region of Houston. Go Neighborhoods, a multiyear place-based initiative for revitalizing Houston communities, is funded by Houston Endowment and United Way of Greater Houston. RAM is looking forward to making its own contribution to the collaborative efforts on Arts, Culture, History & Media with Education & Youth.