UA Establishes Academy to Foster High School Student Interest in Mathematics and Science


Akron, Ohio, Nov. 1, 2002 The University of Akron has established The Muehlstein Academy in Mathematics and Science to fuel the interest of Akron-area high school students in the fields of mathematics and science.

A $350,000 grant from The Herman Muehlstein Foundation, Inc. is launching the program that pairs high school students with area teachers, University students and professors to engage in laboratory and field-based research projects.

The initiative is coordinated through the University's newly formed Center for Collaboration and Inquiry, a joint venture of the College of Education and the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences.

Also supporting the academy is the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, with a $34,625 grant for technology, and the Glenn R. and Alice V. Boggess Foundation, with $2,000 for field trips.

A five-year project, each year the academy will target high school students who demonstrate an interest and/or potential in science or mathematics, especially young women and students of diverse backgrounds. Acceptance into the program is based on students' potential and interest rather than traditional indicators of academic performance, prior experience in mathematics or science courses, or results of standardized testing.

From February to May, high school students will take part in group activities twice a month on The University of Akron campus. The activities will include a speaker series, workshops and tutoring.

The students then participate in two one-week residential experiences in June the first at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center and the second on the UA campus to develop general research and team-building skills and to form research teams based on the high school students' interests.

The academy program continues through November, with teams conducting their investigations and presenting their findings.

Research topics for the first year draw from biology and include: Unraveling the Food Web: Temperate Grassland Trophic Interactions, Mating Behavior in a Freshwater Crustacean, Investigations of Genetic Diversity, The Ecological Genetics of Microbial Environmental Response and The Ecology of Consumption: Who Eats Who in a Grassland? Over the grant period, additional subjects such as geology, chemistry, physics, anthropology and astronomy will be introduced.

Project Coordinator Dr. Claire Oberst says the academy responds to the national imperative to prepare, recruit and retain high-quality teachers of science and mathematics, and to develop students' mathematical and scientific literacy for a number of career options.

Our goal is to provide a program that is nothing less than transformational for all participants, Oberst says. High school students will gain a new appreciation and interest in the work of scientists and mathematicians and the rewards and challenges of teaching science and mathematics. Participating teachers and undergraduate students will gain experience in inquiry-based science and mathematics education, thus expanding capacity for inquiry teaching and learning in area schools.

For more information about The University of Akron Muehlstein Academy, call 330-972-2658 or visit