This year marks the 23rd anniversary of the College of Education and Human Development’s Nevada Math and Technology Camp. This is the first time the camp has been offered in person since 2019 and the first time the camp has been co-ed and in person. After more than two decades as an all-girls camp, it was offered online as a co-ed camp in 2021.

This residential camp for middle school students aims to improve math skills and raise awareness of math-based careers. The program staff includes a mix of seasoned teachers and upper-division first-time or entry-level teachers.

Campers learn math while playing fun games.

One of the instructors, Allison Crawford, earned her master’s degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2022 and is a math professor at Clark County School District in Las Vegas.

“I traveled to Reno to work for the camp because there are no other programs like this in Las Vegas that I know of,” Crawford said. “Middle school is the hardest time for students – academically, emotionally, and physically. Coming to Reno, I can share a different perspective with students since I teach in a different area. The camp focuses on independent problem solving Young people solve math problems on their own to encourage student-directed thinking Then we discuss the solution together.

The Nevada Math & Technology Camp aims to increase students’ knowledge, skills, and confidence in math and technology to improve math and technology skills in personal, academic, and professional life. Models and professionals from the fields of mathematics and technology also participate as guest speakers during the sessions.

“I love this camp because math is everywhere and fun to play,” said Tilli, a seventh-grader from Swope Middle School. “I’m interested in being a biologist, and math is embedded in science. I chose this camp because it was great to meet other kids who were interested in math. I really like learning spatial thinking and staying in the dorms. Everyone is so nice. The meteorologist I met was awesome.”

Campers were placed in small groups so they could ask questions and talk to professionals in STEM fields. This allowed young people to see these role models as real people and to break stereotypes about the type of people who enter STEM fields. Some of the mentors included local meteorologists, engineers and geologists.

Instructors base their lessons on Nevada math standards set for the grade level students will enter in the fall. They employ research-based teaching methods endorsed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, including a constructivist orientation to learning. Math topics covered in camp include problem solving, geometry, spatial skills, data analysis, and probability and algebra.

“I really liked the people I met here,” said Spencer, an 8th grader from Billinghurst Middle School. “Swimming in the pool is the best. I also enjoyed playing Desmos at camp. There are fun games and challenges with geometry and algebra.”

Nearly 40 7th and 8th graders from across Northern Nevada attended the camp, spent the night in the Peavine Hall dorm, and participated in on-campus activities. The program exposed students to the college experience in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. Staying in residential halls also allowed students from outside the Reno-Sparks area to participate.

“My school doesn’t have a lot of opportunities like this,” Gina, an eighth-grader from Adobe Middle School, told Elko. “My math teacher recommended this camp to me. It was my first time going. I was really nervous, but everyone was really welcoming, and we’re all here for something we love. I enjoyed seeing the University and walking around different places on campus. It was cool!”

Heather Crawford-Ferre, assistant camp director, reported that nearly half of this year’s campers were from rural areas.

“The residential nature of the camp allows rural students exposure to a large college campus that might not otherwise have an opportunity at this age due to our state’s geographical dispersion,” she said. .

Nevada youth of all academic abilities and backgrounds were encouraged to attend the camp. The camp was able to offer 10 scholarships to students who qualify for the US Federal Government’s Free or Reduced Price Lunch, thanks to generous sponsors. This year’s sponsors included Nevada Gold Mines, Frances C. and William P. Smallwood Foundation, Panasonic Corporation, Active 20-30 Club of Reno, AAUW Lake Tahoe and Port of Subs.

“Sponsors are a vital part of our program that allows young people from a variety of backgrounds to participate in this program,” said Camp Director Lynda Wiest. “By donating to our program, they are supporting young people in Nevada in their personal and academic lives, while helping to build a qualified pool of skilled math/science workers for our state.”

The camp is led by college professor Lynda Wiest and Nevada Department of Education professional Heather Crawford-Ferre. Wiest has been the camp director since its inception in 1998 and Crawford-Ferre has been with the camp since 2007.

Wiest, a professor of math education and educational equity, received the Louise Hay National Award for Mentoring last year for her contributions to advancing the field of math education.

“I’m there all week, and I’m in and out of the rooms all day and participate in some of the evening recess,” Wiest said. “I can see the light bulbs go out, see them learn, see them come out of their shells and learn to speak in the classroom and in the safe environment that we create, and they’re not afraid to engage in math and to talk about it.”

One of the former campers, Krystianne Vega, is now studying biomedical and electrical engineering at university and plans to graduate in the spring of 2023. Vega attended camp as a youth nearly 10 years ago, then s volunteered for camp for five years, and is now in her second year as a teaching assistant. Her older sister is also a camp instructor and her younger sister is a volunteer.

“This camp inspired me to feel confident,” Vega said. “It’s also taken the stigma out of math as cheesy. I have a lot of relationships that I’ve made through the camp I’ve had over the past 10 years. It’s such a rewarding experience to give back to camp . “