Giving LA youngsters a math and science boost

Center X’s UCLA Mathematics Project and UCLA Science Project are partnering with Bethany Baptist Church for a 6-week Launch Academy summer program. Participants in the program, ranging in age from 4 to 14, engage in three weeks of math and three weeks of science instruction.

Los Angeles sixth-grader Alana Matthews thinks that someday she might like to be an astronaut. But on a recent morning, she was focused on a more immediate goal: tweaking the designs on a paper rocket to increase how long it could stay in the air.

“You don’t want to make it too heavy or that weighs it down. You want to make sure the tube is loose enough and the fins are properly in place.”

Matthews is one of 100 elementary and middle school students taking part in a new summer program that aims to launch not just cardboard spaceships but academic futures.

Aptly named Launch Academy, the program involves a unique partnership between the University of California and Bethany Baptist Church of West Los Angeles, a 58-year-old institution with deep roots in the local African American community.

Participants in the program – ranging in age from 4 to 14 – engage in three weeks of math and three weeks of science instruction. After starting the day with a UCLA cheer, students break into age-based groups of 15-20 students. Teachers in the program are graduates of training programs offered through the UC-led California Subject Matter Project, which brings together classroom teachers with educators who are conducting research into how kids learn.

Curriculum guidance and instructional materials are provided by Center X’s Math Project and Science Project.

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