Boston Calculus Project
The Boston Calculus Project began in 1994 as an NSF funded project shared by the University and the Mathematics Department with the goal of introducing and/or helping to sustain calculus in more than a dozen inner-city schools of Boston. An important on-going outgrowth of that project is the Boston Summer Advanced Mathematics program, which is coordinated by Math Dept faculty member, Robert Case.
The summer program is specifically designed to prepare rising Seniors in the inner-city high schools to take calculus in their schools in September; there is an increasing emphasis on preparation for AP calculus. The population in these courses mirrors the population of Boston’s inner-city schools, with over 90% of the students of African-American, Hispanic, and Southeast Asian extraction and/or children of new immigrants. The program has constantly grown, and over 150 students now participate each summer.
The following are important characteristics of the Boston Calculus Project:
a. Stress is placed on the equal access of city students to a strong mathematics curriculum in their schools; expanding the capacity of the schools themselves is the focus. Instead of having a few students taking a special course on a university campus, the emphasis shifted to assisting the schools in setting up and offering their own calculus course, so that all students would have access in their regular curriculum.
b. Boston high school teachers play an integral role in all facets of the project, with University faculty offering collaboration and support. Ownership lies clearly with the high schools and the teachers. The summer course is co-taught with university faculty.
c. Continuity with college has become more explicit. In particular, the student absorbs not only the curriculum, but also the strategies and personal skills that make for success both in college admission and in persistence in college. This aspect is strengthened by having several college students as mentors to the high school students.
d. Preparation for College Acceptance. The Boston Calculus Project has formed an alliance with The Bottom Line, a college preparatory counseling group which works with low-income city residents to prepare them for college. The Bottom Line has held several workshops on campus and works with the students during their upcoming senior year.
Funding for the Boston Calculus Project comes from various sources, including the Boston Public Schools, Northeastern's School of Education and Mathematics Department, and donations from alumni. New sources of funding are emerging.
A recent development in the Boston Calculus Project of NU is a Calculus Field Day, sponsored by the Mathematics Department, the STEM Center at NU, and NUPRIME. This popular event, held in the spring of the year, brings together teams of students from the high schools of Boston to compete in an array of open-ended problem-solving sessions. The team submissions are graded immediately by a group of teachers, and winners are announced and awards given at the close of the day.
Bridge to Calculus at John D. O'Bryant
The summer Bridge to Calculus is a six-week course taught by O'Bryant and Boston teachers and university faculty, to prepare rising seniors from O'Bryant for the AP calculus courses in the school. This program has operated since 2002, with the support of the Nellie Mae Educational Foundation. It is coordinated by Math Dept faculty member, Don King. Other math faculty and emeritus faculty have taught in Bridge to Calculus, collaborating with Boston high school math instructors. NU undergrads and graduates of O'Bryant High School also serve as Mentors in this program. During most summers around 50 students participate. At the end of the summer program, students are recommended to take either AP Calculus (AB or BC) or Regular Calculus. Largely because of Bridge to Calculus, there has been a spectacular improvement in the scores of students at O'Bryant on the AP AB calculus exam. Moreover, O’Bryant High School became only the second Boston public high school to offer AP BC calculus. We look forward to increasing the participation of minorities and sustaining the gains in performance on the AP exam.
Other Partnerships with Boston Public Schools
Step UP leverages the collective experience and expertise of five Boston-area universities -- Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, and Tufts University in outreach to public education. The universities work together in a coordinated fashion to provide a comprehensive set of learning support services to ten Boston Public Schools. Specifically, each university is paired with two Step Up schools and charged with developing a set of support mechanisms for students and teachers. Over the course of the five year initiative, the partner universities are investing $5 million in direct services to the schools and an additional $5 million in in-kind and other support services. Northeastern is paired with the Curley K-8 School in Jamaica Plain and Orchard Gardens K-8 School in Roxbury. Math faculty serve as advisors to the project.
Aligning Mathematics in the Middle Grades, funded by Title IIB of the No Child Left Behind Act, is a collaborative effort involving the Boston Public Schools, Northeastern University, Education Development Center, Inc., and the University of Washington. It is designed to strengthen mathematics teaching and learning at grades 5 through 8 in Boston over a three-year period. The project provides a cohesive program of professional development that strengthens mathematical knowledge for teaching with a particular focus on number, operations and algebra. Thus what students are learning in these strands at the elementary grades becomes a more explicitly basis for middle school math teachers, and elementary teachers of math become more aware of and better able prepare students for middle school math expectations. The project also provides support for professional learning communities in schools, so teachers can continue to deepen their mathematical knowledge for teaching as they plan and debrief lessons, examine student work, and participate in structured visits to each other’s classrooms. Teachers are supported as they enact what they are learning from the project in their own classrooms. Mathematics department faculty participate by co-leading seminars, supporting the leadership conferences which is the main support for the professional learning communities and by advising project leaders.
This is a six-week summer program. Students going into the 7th, 8th and 9th grades study Mathematics, English, Science and Current Events. Students entering the 10th, 11th and 12th grades take English and Mathematics SAT preparation classes. These more advanced students also sit in on a Northeastern University class, usually an introductory liberal arts course; one of the instructional assistants sits in also and the conducts a study skills session using the college course as motivation.
Support is also offered during the school year, in the form of an after-school tutoring program designed to assist students in their homework, studying for tests and understanding concepts with which they may be struggling. The tutors are NU students who work on a one-to-one basis with the Balfour students.
The Math Circle
This is a nonprofit organization that runs mathematics courses for pre-collegiate students (ages 5 to 18) at Harvard University and Northeastern University. The courses are not designed to "instruct'' the students, so much as to challenge and inspire them with creative problem-solving. The program at Northeastern involves about 40 students in ten 3-hour weekend sessions during each of the Fall and Spring semesters. Andrei Zelevinsky is on the Math Circle Advisory Board and represents our department in supervising these courses. For more information, go to www.themathcircle.org.