Ramya Ramaswamy is the Founding Programs Manager on the National team at Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM). Ramya develops and implements BEAM programming to be run nationally and with younger students. Prior to working at BEAM, Ramya taught elementary school in Washington D.C. Ramya is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Javier Ronquillo Rivera is the Math and Pedagogy Lead at Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics. He finished his PhD in Mathematics at Ohio University and worked as a college professor for two years. As an undergraduate in Guatemala, his home country, he worked as a coach for the International Mathematics Olympiad national team. From the US he continues supporting Guatemalan teachers and students as a founding member of Circulos Matematicos Totonicapán. Before he joined BEAM full-time, Javier worked with BEAM for five summers as part of the faculty in our summer programs.
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Most summers, BEAM runs free summer programs for mathematically talented middle school students from low income, historically marginalized communities. Our programs are designed to deepen students' problem solving and mathematical reasoning skills, to foster their love of math, and to build a community centered around peers all interested in mathematics.
This summer, in response to the pandemic, we made the decision to shift our summer programming online and operate virtually for the first time. We crafted a program that we hoped would sustain many of our original programming goals.
This paper outlines the decisions made, the variables that affected implementation, and the learnings gained as a result of running our programs for rising 8th graders virtually. Utilizing student feedback as recorded by staff members during and at the end of the summer to note overall trends, this paper highlights topics such as virtual learning structures, student engagement, technology, and academic and non-academic community building.
Description of Program
Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM) is a nonprofit organization that works to create pathways for students from low-income and historically marginalized communities to become scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and computer scientists. BEAM's academic offerings are focused on access to advanced mathematics, which is often a barrier to success in STEM majors. We also work to foster positive self-identity, joy in doing mathematics, and community among its students. Since our founding ten years ago, BEAM has built a longitudinal program that supports students from 6th grade through college graduation with programs in New York City and Los Angeles. BEAM has additional plans to expand to more regions of the US.
Ramaswamy, Ramya and Ronquillo Rivera, Javier
"A Summer Program Goes Online: How BEAM Served Students from Marginalized Backgrounds During COVID,"
Journal of Math Circles: Vol. 2:
2, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/mathcirclesjournal/vol2/iss2/4