MCLENNAN COUNTY, TX — House Representative Bill Flores visited Baylor's Mayborn Museum Tuesday to learn how a summer math program is teaching children valuable STEM skills.
For the month of July, the Mayborn Museum will host 80 students from Waco Independent School District and La Vega Independent School District as part of the Math for Early Learning Academy, or MELA. MELA was founded by Baylor University and professor of mathematics education, Dr. Sandi Cooper, in 2016. This year, the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten-focused program nearly tripled in size, and recieved a $74,000 grant from Waco's Cooper Foundation.
The students who attend this four-week camp have been identified as below grade level in math skills, and the 15 morning sessions at the Mayborn Museum are designed to provide significant support in this area. "It's all about gaining number sense, which is composing and decomposing numbers - more than just counting," Cooper said.
Rep. Flores visited with students and teachers to learn more about how this program which works with young children can impact their entire future. "These students that are here today, their fundamentals, their foundation that they're building in math are going to be hugely important for them for the rest of their life and careers, and for their families," Flores said.
Teachers in each of the six classrooms are supported by Baylor Education students and other aids from the school district. Each of the classroom hosts about 15 to 20 students, and allows for focused attention in a small-group setting. According to assessments done at the end of the program, 98 percent of the students who complete the MELA program test on or above their grade level.