Andersonville Elementary School students are coming to UT to learn what it’s like to be scholars

There’s nothing like good ol’ hands-on, experiential learning to reinforce facts learned in the classroom. That’s why Andersonville Elementary School teachers are bringing their students to the UT campus this week to practice their math skills in real-world settings.

On Friday, about 160 third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students will get a good look at campus, from the UT Libraries’ Commons to historic Ayres Hall on the Hill.

Several UT departments have staged problem-solving activities for the student visitors. Experiences are designed to blend math skills with research problems in other fields that have widespread appeal to young learners. Students will test pond pH levels, explore the role of mathematics in studying bat populations, investigate the behavioral ecology of spiders, and learn about research methodology. They will be led in these and other research experiences by faculty and staff from the departments of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Mathematics, Psychology, the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), the Center for Leadership and Service, VolsTeach, and the University Libraries.

Even lunch will offer a computational experience. Faculty will lead food-based math activities during a lunch hosted by the Center for Literacy, Education, and Employment.

The visit is part of the Morning Math program at nearby Andersonville Elementary School in which student volunteers work with teachers to provide extra math assistance to third- and fourth-graders each morning before classes begin. Morning Math has been highly successful at creating a positive attitude toward the subject of math and increasing students’ confidence in their math skills.

When students in the Morning Math program were asked how they wished to spend a grant from the Kroger corporation, they said, “go to UT and see the library and some scientists!”

That enthusiasm is high praise for the UT Libraries! Library staff members are pleased to host these future Volunteers and offer them a brief tour of the library’s iconic learning commons.

The learning commons is designed for the study habits of today’s college students. The Commons, which fills the entire main floor of Hodges Library, combines a lively social gathering spot with state-of-the-art technology and lots of in-person help. In the Commons, UT students can get research assistance from librarians, computer experts, math tutors, and writing instructors all in one location.

The UT Libraries’ outreach to area schools earlier this spring included a symposium for local high school students considering careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. That symposium also featured hands-on research experiences, as well as an opportunity for students to meet current UT undergraduates and faculty in STEM disciplines.

Welcome, Andersonville Elementary School students! You’re on the path to success!

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