Agastya Style Visit to Local School in South Carolina!

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A Report from Neil Calkin, Department of Mathematical Sciences. Clemson University, Clemson SC. USA

A year ago, give or take an hour, we had just watched an amazing demonstration by school students in New Delhi, showing us how much they had learned from the visit by Agastya to their schools.   You may recall that I spoke briefly after dinner about wanting to see something like this happen elsewhere in the world, and in particular in  South Carolina.

Since I won't be able to be at the next Catalyst conference in China, and report on this in person, I thought I'd take the opportunity of this anniversary to update you on what I've been spending a fair bit of my time doing since I returned to Clemson. We have a structure called a Creative Inquiry, in which students obtain course credit for being part of a professor's research team: in conjunction with several other faculty members (mathematics education, statistics, science education) I have been leading a Creative Inquiry with half a dozon students through the process of putting together a first Agastya-style visit to a local school, we are going to visit twice in May, teaching experiments to 5th and 6th graders on the first visit, and then, on the second visit four days later, having the 5th and 6th graders teach the experiments to the 3rd and 4th graders. We'll survey the students before and after to try to measure the success of the project in terms of generating excitement and delight in science and math. I'll update you after we've visited the school with how things go.

We're also starting to plan for a somewhat larger program next year, visiting several schools in the area, and are working to try to find a feasible way to grow the program at a sustainable rate, and to extend it to some of the poorer areas of the state, in particular our so-called "corridor of shame", where there is a huge need for science enrichment.

Finally, thanks *so* very much for the opportunity last year to see the Agastya group in action, and for inspiring me so much!

Neil Calkin
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Clemson University
Clemson SC 29634-0975


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