New program introduces youngsters to STEM


INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — When it comes to learning algebra, a batch of Purdue Polytechnic high schoolers have become the teachers. They’re showing youngsters the ropes of STEM.

Minorities and young girls often don’t get exposed to stem programs early on, but the Algebra by 7 program is a way to change that — by teaching elementary school students algebra by seventh grade and also giving high schoolers a valuable teaching experience.

Fifth grader Oliver Calow, who loves long division, has been at this math thing for a while.

“I learned division and multiplication in second grade,” he said.

He’s improving those problem solving skills with help from Polytechnic high school students, many of whom have dreams of becoming teachers when they grow up.

“Not everybody likes math, but I think it takes one person to show you that you’re good at math, and you enjoy math,” said junior Haleigh Barry. “Not everyone math when you looking at the board and the teacher is talking.”

The goal of the program is to teach elementary school kids like Calow algebra by seventh grade, while also providing fun through engineering and building projects.

“I’ve really been enjoying that environment — being able to teach all kinds of kids,” said freshman Ainsley Blackman.

“I really like this program. You don’t really have to search for it — everyone is welcome,” said senior Ty Byrns.

This is the first program. It’s funded by Purdue alumnus Dick Barnes and it’s designed to help underserved youth and Black children. But it’s not just for the kids who already love math.

“It’s all about representation, so they see someone that looks like them, acts like them, doing this stuff, they realize then, ‘Oh, I can do it, too,’” said coordinator Donald Baker.

This initial program is wrapping up, but it’ll start again in January.

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