Discover Your Island

Middle School Students Achieve Mathematical Literacy at Garcia Center Camp

September 14, 2017

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Not all kids see a personal connection with math, but a team of educators from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s College of Education and Human Development (COEHD) worked with the Math Camp at the Antonio E. Garcia Arts and Education Center to change that. For two weeks during August, 25 sixth-grade students participated in Math Camp at the Garcia Center, gaining mathematical literacy and learning that math can be fun. The program was offered for free to students struggling in math and participants were each provided daily meals and a free backpack of school supplies.

Although not located at the Island University main campus, the Garcia Center continues to be a vital place of learning for the Corpus Christi community. Established in 1993, the Garcia Center caters to a high-risk demographic of underserved youth and families through programs, partnerships and research at their building in Corpus Christi’s Westside.

“We wanted to work with students who needed our help most,” said Dr. Richard Ricard, Assistant Dean of COEHD Graduate Programs and Professor at COEHD at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “We provided individualized and small-group activities designed to support learning in a fun environment. We know from research that this approach can pay off big with student’s having a new attitude towards math.”

Math Camp students learned through activities incorporating the arts, cooking, exercise and real-world problems into math. The camp also supported “college culture” through a field trip to the Island University campus, where the activities included conducting a science lab and watching drones in action.

“Students often struggle in school because they do not see a personal connection to their learning experience,” said Ricard. “Our program exposes students to real-world applications of mathematics in their lives. This benefits to students who may have a negative attitude about their ability to do mathematics in their home school settings.”

Many students were excited to learn during Math Camp. Inquisitive minds had limitless questions for the Islander professors and students, unhindered by the idea of impossibilities.

“At the camp, they showed us how to do something, and then we had hands-on activities, so now I feel confident I can do it myself,” said Aurora Cano, who attends Marvin Baker Middle School. 

This year’s Math Camp was the second offered by the Garcia Center. The skills taught will be reinforced through a series of free weekend math intervention classes during the school year. Research on the 2016 camp showed that participants’ attitudes towards math changed positively, students wanted more intervention classes, and grades showed improvement.

Math Camp would not be possible without generous donations and help from A&M-Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi Independent School District, the Garcia Center, JAG Education is Our Freedom and Valero Energy Corporation.

“We greatly appreciate our community partners. By their support, they have recognized the value of early educational interventions for supporting student success,” said Ricard. “Our camp represents an intervention designed specifically to support students in ways that increase the likelihood of their success in the future workforce.”

For a look at photos from this year’s Math Camp, click here, here or here.

For more information about programs and events at the Garcia Center, click here.