Youth who dream of a career in high-tech and engineering are getting an extra boost while they’re in elementary and high school, thanks to Carleton University’s Math Enrichment Centre.
“We see there’s a need for this – students wanted it, parents wanted it and teachers are happy with it,” says Yuly Billig, director of the centre. “So this gives us opportunities to grow.”
The School of Mathematics and Statistics’ Math Enrichment Centre offers programs to students who excel in math, and goes beyond the curriculum offered in schools.
“Sometimes, the school cannot satisfy all of their interests, so they come here for deeper and more interesting math – and we’re not shy about challenging students,” Billig says.
Billig started the Math Enrichment Centre in 2006, which offered one program at the time to students in grades 9 and 10. MathLink, the program offered to these students, includes topics such as sequences, combinatorics, probability, geometry, logic and mathematical games.
Last year, Billig says programming expanded to include students from grades 7 to 12. These programs include lessons on geometry, algebra, computer science and physics, and are modelled after formal university math courses – where students have assignments, a mid-term and final exam.
In January 2015, the Math Enrichment Centre will partner with Math Kangaroo – an international mathematical competition – and reach younger students in grades 3 to 6.
“It’s amazing how many different things we have right now,” Billig says, adding that the experience is particularly valuable for young students. “Students find it challenging and exciting, and younger students are very enthusiastic about mathematics.”
While the program is aimed at young people, he says that lessons learned at the Math Enrichment Centre while make a positive impact on the future.
“Our economy is more and more tech-based, where we export a lot of products and services for the sector,” Billig says. “It’s vitally important to have people who excel in mathematics.”
As the centre grows, he says that more rooms will be used in the Herzberg Building to accommodate the increasing number of students attending the programs.
He hopes that the Math Enrichment Centre will grow even more down the road.
“We hope to grow and we hope to have more students taking these courses,” Billig says. “I think it’s just good for everybody involved. I get a lot of positive energy from teaching these classes. There are fantastic students and lots of talent here in Ottawa and it’s a great pleasure for me to have conversations with these students.”
MathLink begins on Sept. 17, and will run each Wednesday in room 4351 of the Herzberg Laboratories from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Students can drop in when they want and no registration is required.
For more information on this year’s programming, visit: Carleton.ca/math/math-enrichment-centre.