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Posted by: Date: March 2, 2009 In:

Using math to build community

For the students, from PLU and middle schools around the area, the Mathletes Tutor Program is more than just numbers and equations.“What we are about is community building,” said Bryan Dorner, PLU math professor. Last week, hundreds of area middle schoolers, their parents and about 20 PLU students who take part in the tutoring program gathered at PLU to celebrate the program and mathematics. For the past five years, PLU math students have volunteered their time as Mathlete Coaches. They spend at least a few hours every week tutoring middle school students in preparation for the Washington State Math Olympiad in the spring.

And the problems are not task, Dorner said.

In fact, the problems are challenging even for college students, but what is the most interesting is to see how a middle school student approach something without the methods learned by college students.

They create a true bond around mathematics. Hopefully, middle school students – who otherwise feel they were “no good” at math – will see that they can be exceptional.

“They (middle school students) need to know if this is something you are passionate about the abilities will come,” Dorner said.

Often they learn that from the PLU students, while PLU students learn how much of an impact they have on the lives of these children.

“I think there is a great level of satisfaction in forming these bonds in Math League,” Dorner said. “We talk a lot about making a difference and they are going out there and doing it.”

While the program has grown, Dorner hopes to see it continue as its value becomes apparent. Through the support of PLU and a generous grant from Intel, the program has been funded this year. The funds help provide transportation and pay for entry fees for the Math Olympiad.

The grants are a great help in supporting the program as the area schools in the program have a high number of reduced and free lunch programs.

“A lot of these kids couldn’t afford the entry fee,” Dorner said.

To find out more about the Mathlete Tutoring Program contact Celine Dorner at dornerca@plu.edu.