CyMath-Kids is a virtual mathematics program led by Drs. Namrata Vaswani and Christa Jackson from Iowa State University. The goal of CyMath is to inspire, motivate, and encourage students to see the joy, beauty, and wonder in mathematics as well as engage and challenge students in mathematics. Research has shown that students who have an increased interest in STEM in their early years of education are more likely to pursue that interest resulting in a STEM-related career (After-School Alliance Report, 1015). On the other hand, if enough encouragement and challenge are not provided in early grades, it can often lead to a loss of interest throughout the school years. CyMath offers extended help and challenge sessions for students to strengthen and deepen their mathematical understanding.
During CyMath, we work with third-grade students at Moulton Elementary School. The help and challenge sessions are provided by graduate student volunteers from Mathematics and Engineering who virtually work with a small group of third graders. Ms. Kimberly Smith works closely with CyMath to recruit third graders to participate as well as provide resources to CyMath volunteers. None of this would have been possible without the tireless efforts of Ms. Kimberly (Kimmy) Smith who has worked really hard to recruit students into this program by making personal phone calls to parents and guardians and keeping the volunteers up to date on what the children are learning in the classroom.
“CyMath has been a great experience. The kids are fun and kind, and they work hard at the problems I give them and I appreciate their effort and questions. It is one of the highlights of my week to get to help them with math and to see the creative ways that they problem-solve. I feel like it has also been a fun challenge to learn how to explain concepts in different ways and adapt to them solving problems in ways I might not have thought of ahead of time.”
–Abby Martin, Graduate Student, Mathematics
“As a child I was always encouraged by my mathematics teachers to understand ‘why something works’ when learning new concepts which I now realize is at the core of critical reasoning. In our CyMath sessions, I attempted to do the same and observed that the kids are in fact doing that implicitly. This, I believe, is a positive indicator of their educators. I hope to have influenced their thinking at least slightly and made them more interested in math.”
–Praneeth Narayanamurthy, Graduate Student, Electrical and Computer Engineering
“Volunteering with CyMath I have learned far more than I anticipated. Being able to tailor problems and my curriculum to the kids I’m working with has been so important, and so I’ve gained immeasurable respect for grade school teachers like Kimmy who do an amazing job working with limited resources on an even larger scale. I hope to make a difference, no matter how small, and it’s this goal that drives what I’m doing.”
–Zac Brennan, Graduate Student, Mathematics
“I can only speak for my own students, but I have seen a difference in LL’s math confidence and also in the way JJ does problems. This last week while I was showing her group a strategy, she said, “Oh yeah, Praneeth showed us that before!”
–Ms. Kimmy Smith, 3rd grade teacher, Moulton Elementary
Dr. Vaswani is actively looking for volunteers who are graduate students in ECpE (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Math or Computer Science. For more information, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.