Campus: Sonoma State -- October 10, 2006

SSU Reality Show to use an Extreme Makeover to Train Students in Mathematics

The fall television line-up includes an unlikely new contender: Sonoma State University.

SSU has been awarded a $50,000 grant by the AT&T Foundation to implement an innovative approach to teaching high school mathematics. Modeled after a popular television show, "Extreme Makeover: Math Edition" features a dynamic instructor leading a team of students on hypothetical construction projects that involve hands-on mathematical applications.

In keeping with the TV show's format, the students with be dressed as construction workers and their activities will be

recorded at a local construction site thanks to Burbank Housing.

The project is being undertaken by the University's GEAR UP program in partnership with the Community Media Center of Santa Rosa. Together they will create a 30-minute educational DVD that will be broadcast on the CMC television station, reaching a potential audience of over 156,000 residents.

In addition to the televised broadcast, the Extreme Makeover: Math Edition DVD will be incorporated as a teaching aid into all four of SSU's federally funded pre-college programs, encompassing over 1,300 students. The DVD will also be made available to as many as 70 other high schools throughout northern California as part of the university's Early Assessment Program. One hundred copies of the DVD (in both English and Spanish) will be produced.

GEAR UP ("Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs") is a federally funded grant program designed to prepare low-income students for post-secondary education. Susan Wandling of the GEAR UP program says it is unique from other federal initiatives in that it relies on universities, schools, and community organizations to come together as partners and work toward systemic change within the schools and the surrounding community. "It takes real commitment from everyone involved."

The program serves a single cohort of students for six years (typically seventh grade through high school) and endeavors to develop and test best practices for school reform. Services often focus on tutoring, teacher training, curriculum enhancement, counseling, and parental involvement activities. The GEAR UP program at Sonoma State is in its sixth year, serving the senior class of Elsie Allen High School.

Sonoma State was one of only 74 GEAR UP grantees selected this year. Wandling thinks the reality show model made her proposal a winner.

For more information contact Susan Wandling, director of Academic Talent Search for University Preparation Services, at (707) 664-3122.


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