Some of Warren County School District's best and brightest young minds are going to summer school.
A dozen gifted support students who just finished grades four through six are participating in the Carnegie Mellon Institute for Talented Elementary and Secondary Students (C-MITES) Informal Geometry summer program.
They are learning about geometry, typically a ninth- or tenth-grade program, at the Learning Enrichment Center (LEC) from math teacher Kellie Blasco.
In fact, during one lesson, Blasco had to introduce a little trigonometry, coursework typically reserved for senior high school students.
The curriculum given to Blasco by Carnegie Mellon is not perfectly rigid. "There was a lot of flexibility in the curriculum," she said.
According to the Informal Geometry brochure, "This course is called 'informal' geometry because we focus on basic geometric principles through the use of manipulatives, not on the proofs of a traditional geometry course."
The program is very hands-on according to Blasco and LEC Principal Amy Stimmell.
Blasco spent most of Monday introducing the terms and basic ideas that would be used throughout the course. Students worked with Tangrams (a square cut into seven geometric shapes that can be arranged into various shapes) on Tuesday and measured the heights of a number of trees and buildings on the grounds using meter sticks, protractors, a weight on a string, and measuring wheels. The planned curriculum called for using the principle of similarity to determine the heights. However, Blasco wasn't confident there would be appropriate shadows. So, she introduced the tangent, a trigonometry function, to the students. By Wednesday, students were in the pavilion near the Stone Building most of the day, working on Making Math Manipulatives and Puzzlegrams.
The program is supported by Warren County School District only to the extent that it is hosted at the LEC. "The school district isn't supporting this," Blasco said. "Carnegie Mellon is paying me."
Students are charged tuition for the program, however, financial aid was provided. "We had community support to defray some of the costs for each of the students through the Community Foundation of Warren County," Stimmell said.
Stimmell pushed hard for the program to be brought to Warren County, Blasco said.
"Typically they have to go to Pittsburgh to participate," Stimmell said. "It's truly an honor that we were chosen."
"This program supports the rigor and challenge that we rise to at the LEC," Stimmell said.