What is the Math Corps?

Founded in 1992, the WSU Math Corps is a tution-free combined academic enrichment and mentoring program that brings middle and high school students together, with college students and mathematicians to share in the teaching and learning of mathematics in a university setting. It is based on the idea of creating a self-perpetuating “corps," where students matriculate through the program and return as mentors and tutors, passing their knowledge and values on to younger students, who in turn do the same.

In a world where the dreams of children are so often unfulfilled or not even encouraged, and where the obstacles to success are so daunting, the Math Corps has, from the beginning, been about making a difference and changing lives. At its core, the Math Corps is about a very simple but unwavering belief—that all children have a unique and special greatness within them, and that through hard work and a commitment to excellence, and with the support of a caring community, this greatness can be realized.

Math Corps Programs

The Math Corps Summer Camp, the centerpiece of the Math Corps, is a six-week program that currently serves a total of 400 students. The camp is housed on Wayne State's campus at two different sites, each serving 40 seventh-graders, 40 eighth-graders, 40 ninth-graders and 80 high school students. The middle school students receive a variety of instruction delivered by professors, K-12 teachers, college students, and high school students. Each day of the camp has a morning and an afternoon component. In the morning, the focus is entirely on the middle school kids. The college staff and high school students not only serve as teachers and role models, but in many instances, as essentially "big brothers" and "big sisters." In the afternoon, the middle school students participate in a variety of hands-on activities, while the high school students engage in two Mathematics courses of their own, at least one of which is an advanced course at the college level.  

The High School Bridge Program was added in 2001 as a half-day program for incoming 9th grade students and later expanded to a full-day program in 2002. The Bridge Program parallels the middle school Summer Camp in structure, consisting of 4 teams comprised of 10 incoming ninth grade students, five high school TAs (juniors and seniors) and a college student that serves as the team leader. 

In both the Summer Camp and High School Bridge Program, high school students are selected as Teaching Assitants on the basis of their academic record, dedication to learning, communication skills, maturity level and desire to help others. In keeping with the program's long-term commitment to its students, high school students who previously participated in the Math Corps as middle school students are given special consideration. 

The Math Corps Super Saturdays Program provides a vehicle for the Math Corps staff to follow through with students through out the academic year. Quite frankly, working with students for six weeks out of the year is simply not enough. The Math Corps Saturday Programs serve as a complement to the Summer Programs. As in Math Corps' other programs, the same team-oriented, mentor driven, student-teaching-student approach is utilized.

All children have a unique and special greatness within them. Through hard work, a commitment to excellence, and a dedication to learning, combined with the support of a caring community, this greatness can be realized. It is Math Corps mission, using Mathematics as its tool, to help as many children in Detroit as possible realize their own particular greatness.

The Math Corps is guided by a six-part philosophy that filters through all of its programs:

A Sense of Family
Students are made to feel important, that they belong to something special and that the Math Corps staff truly cares about them as individuals.

High Standards and Expectations
All students are expected to meet high academic standards regardless of past performance. Success becomes the rule, not the exception.

Math, Math, Math!
Mathematics is viewed as paramount and the notion that mathematics can be interesting and even fun is espoused and readily accepted.

Challenge Rather Than Remediate
Students are taught to view mathematics as a sense-making activity at which they themselves are quite capable.

Learning in Groups and through Exploration and Discovery
Student activities incorporate group learning, open discussion and emphasize the importance of cooperating with one another.

Students Teaching Students.
Students at each level interact with others who are a bit further along in their mathematical development. Learning is two-way: younger students learn from older students who become natural role models; older students, through their tutoring and mentoring, deepen their own understanding of mathematics.