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Learning about STEM education

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PROBLEM SOLVING: Tri-Central High School students work on a math problem known as the “mobius strip” at Indiana Wesleyan University on Thursday. The activity took place during a joint Taylor University and IWU “Math Day” to encourage high school students to think about STEM careers. From left to right: Zipporah Mainville, Katie Wyant and IWU student volunteer Patrick Arnold.
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MATH FUN: Tri-Central High School junior Sam Davis chats with a peer at the “3 Doors” math activity at the joint Indiana Wesleyan University and Taylor University “Math Day.”

By Clay Winowiecki - cwinowiecki@chronicle-tribune.com

Taylor University and Indiana Wesleyan University co-hosted a “High School Math Day” to give students a new perspective on math.

The event, which was held on Thursday, marked its fifth year that the two universities came together to host the event. The event took place in the Barnes Student Center on IWU’s Marion campus.

“It’s great working together with another university for the common goal of high school students seeing a side of math they may not see otherwise,” said Daniel Kiteck, associate professor of mathematics at IWU in a prepared statement. “We get to help them experience math in a fun and interactive way, hopefully helping their perspectives on math to grow more positive.”

The “Math Day” was designed to showcase possible future studies for students who are interested in STEM-related fields.

Students engaged in a variety of experiences including a “math trail”, where students found math problems throughout IWU’s campus, a game show that explores various probability problems and other hands-on activities that portray mathematical concepts.

The math trail, run by Taylor University, created a trail of math problems for students to tackle. One such problem was a marble globe in the library, which spins on a bath of water. The students needed to solve questions such as how many revolutions per minute the ball would spin, followed by revolutions per day, according to Patrick Eggleton, a professor of mathematics at Taylor.

There was also a “mobius strip” activity, which is a long strip that when made into a circle, and twisted, the surface continues infinitely.

A third activity was known as “3 Doors,” where students could generate different simulations to discover probability.

Around 100 students from five high schools attended the event. High schools who came were Eastbrook, Blackford, Elwood, Anderson and Tri-Central.

“My kids have a lot of fun at it usually,” said Amy Sargent, a Tri-Central High School teacher. “I’ve brought kids the last two years and they (always) walk away with some fun knowledge about things we don’t have time for in the classroom necessarily.”

According to Sargent, the day is useful for another reason too.

“It helps (students) to see where they can use math in different fields,” she added.

According to Eggleton, many of societies top jobs are related to math in some way.

“(This day is about) both of our departments trying to promote math for students so they can realize how important it is in society,” Eggleton said.

But just because the jobs are important, doesn’t mean they are easy to attain.

“We have some highly gifted and talented students who have a lot to offer, but people stay away from STEM (fields) because it requires a lot of effort,” he said.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2010 and 2020, employment in science and engineering occupations will grow by 18.7 percent, compared to only 14.3 percent for all other occupations.

“It’s great that the two universities are willing to work together at this, even though we are rivals in sports it shows our heart for students,” Eggleton added.