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UVU to Host Math Scavenger Hunt For Local Sixth Graders

22 October 2013 No Comment

October 22, 2013

For Immediate Release

University Marketing & Communications: Whitney Wilkinson

Written by: Heather Wrigley

What do you get if you take 31 sixth graders and add three hours of technology and computing problem solving activities?

Utah Valley University is hoping the answer will be a group of students who realize that math is truly relevant in almost any field.

On Nov. 1, 2013, a sixth grade class from Provo’s Westridge Elementary School will arrive at UVU to participate in the first-ever This-Doesn’t-Feel-Like-Math Scavenger Hunt, put on by dozens of students and various faculty from the university’s Department of Technology Management and University College’s Developmental Math.

“National studies show that nearly two-thirds of eighth graders lack proficiency in math and science,” said Anne Arendt, assistant professor of technology management at UVU and event coordinator. “The scavenger hunt is aimed at motivating students who are about to enter middle school to explore and prepare for STEM careers.”

Students arranged in teams will travel from station to station, where they will work together to solve challenging math problems like determining how much wood is needed to construct a particularly sized bedroom closet or calculating the curve of a road.

UVU students from Arendt’s classes and from Colleen Bye’s Math 1010 class have designed the problems and will man the booths and assist the teams. The math problems come from a variety of fields including automotive, construction, computer science, digital media, criminal justice, robotics, geomatics, information systems and technology management.

The half-day event is part of UVU’s University Project for Civic Engagement, which encourages UVU faculty and students as well as community partners to engage in service learning, volunteering and literacy and numeracy projects. In 2012 and 2013, the project is focusing on improving math and reading skills among local schoolchildren, to prepare them to compete in the global marketplace.

The Department of Technology Management is a service learning-designated department, meaning faculty members try to incorporate as much hands-on, applied, engaged learning as possible, including service learning. STEM subjects are a natural fit for engaged learning, Arendt said.

“The idea for the scavenger hunt came from UVU’s implementation of the project for civic engagement,” Arendt said. “Our main goal is to get non-math lovers to see that virtually every field and industry uses math in some way. Math is really going to be useful later on, and there are different kinds of math, so you can be strong in one area and not so strong in another.”

The technology management and developmental math departments at UVU will trade off leading the event each year.

“Students begin to form their attitudes toward math and science early on in their education,” Bye said. “We want to begin as early as possible helping students develop a good attitude toward these subjects so that they have options open to them later on as they decide what career they’re going to pursue.”

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