In early July, the University of Mississippi in conjunction with Mt. Olive Ministries hosted the first annual Math Camp in Mt. Olive. Twenty-one students in fifth through eighth grades from Mt. Olive and Mendenhall enrolled for the Math Camp, which taught math and science skills using hands-on applications and manipulatives. “We are working to expose the students to geometry, physics and scenarios applicable to real world experiences,” said Carl Dewitt, lead teacher from the University’s Center for Math and Science Education.

“We also threw in a little science just for fun,” said Dewitt. Dewitt was one of two instructors and an assistant. Eighth grade student, Keaundria Milloy, 13, of Mt. Olive, said she liked learning about physics. She experimented with placing an apple in nitrogen and watching the apple shatter like glass. “That was cool. I did not know that could happen,” said Milloy. Instructor Paige Gillentine assigned students to a scavenger hunt using hand-held global positioning systems. Caleb Stuckey, 11, and a seventh grader from Mendenhall was one of her students. “That was fun,” said Stuckey. “I learned to read coordinates on a GPS, which I had never done.”

Tony Duckworth, co-partner of the program and president of Mt. Olive Ministries, said he recognized the effectiveness of the program on the first day when a 10-year-old student ran to him screaming in excitement about an experiment.  The student, Dylan Reeves, told Duckworth that he now is interested in studying physics. “My hope is that the students develop educational dreams that we can nurture,” said Duckworth. “We want to expose students to as many career options as possible.”

John O’Haver, professor of chemical engineering at the University advises students to take as many math classes as possible in preparation for college.  “Math is the number one market in the world today,” said O’Haver. A former high school math teacher, O’Haver also said too many graduates arrive to college under prepared, particularly in math and science. “In all my travels and talks, I encounter many people who simply talk about the educational problems that we have here in Mississippi,” says O’Haver. “However, here is an organization that is willing to step up to the plate and try to do something about the problem in their own community. Universities do not usually come to 1-A schools for such programming.  We are appreciative of what Mt. Olive Ministries is doing. We’re glad to come help make a difference.”

Category: Math Camp