Lending a helping hand halfway across the world
During the fall semester, Denison students in the math and physics departments piloted a tutoring program in coordination with the non-profit Maths and Science Leadership Academy (MSLA) in South Africa.
These students used Skype to help tutor high school seniors in Kimberly, South Africa, in math and science as the high school students prepared for their matric exams. The Denison students worked through problem sets with the high school students, utilizing what they learned at Denison to reteach it halfway around the world.
The idea for the pilot program was started in the spring semester of last year, when math professor, Dr. Sarah Wolff, brought the MSLA director, Anne MacLean, Maths Pi-oneers Programme Director Mandisa Lebitso, and Academic Coordinator Martie Venter to Denison for a week-long visit. These teachers highlighted the importance of the matric exam to South African students. For South African students, how well they score on the matric exams determines both what they are allowed to study in college and whether they are allowed to attend college. This resonated with Denison students, as they viewed their education as an opportunity to give back to the community in order to let others have similar opportunities. Working alongside Dr. Wolff, Denison students coordinated several successful tutoring sessions with the MSLA students, working through difficulties and learning how to improve the program. During these tutoring sessions, the problems covered ranged from graphing and translating funct ions to proving statements about cyclic quadrilaterals and quadratic patterns (new concepts for the Denison students!)
As their advising professor, Dr. Wolff, would say, “The best way to know if you understand a concept is to teach it.” And for these Denison students, the best way to brighten the world is to teach it.