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STAC Receives MAA Tensor Grant for Girls Math Program

Dec 04, 2017

STAC Receives MAA Tensor Grant for Girls Math Program

Dr. Meghan De Witt, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at St. Thomas Aquinas College, has started and is coordinating a Girls Exploring Mathematics (GEM) program. GEM is a dual-mentorship program where Dr. De Witt mentors female math majors, who then mentor high school girls in the local community. Dr. De Witt received a Mathematical Association of America Tensor grant to fund the program, which allows the college to hire undergraduate students as interns and provide classroom and technological support for weekly meetings and planning of the GEM projects.  

“Young girls are often discouraged from pursuing the math-intensive STEM fields.  I started the GEM program to show young girls that women can do math, and do it well; to show them that math is interesting and fun; and to show them that they can be creative while doing math,” explains Dr. De Witt.

The goal of GEM is to interest young girls in mathematics.  Dr. De Witt and this year’s undergraduate interns, Lindsay Miller (Glen Rock, NJ), Mikaila Hulse (Islip, NY), Carolyn Kopf (Garnerville, NY), and Nyenyeri Kanefu (Rutherford, NJ), meet weekly to plan and prepare math lessons and projects.  Three times a year, they travel to local high schools where the interns teach a mathematical presentation to a group of girls. In addition to a hands-on project, each lesson also includes a discussion of ways the math topic is used today and a discussion of female mathematicians who have been involved in the development of the topic. GEM is based on the belief that the best way to learn how to teach math is by doing math. The program gives the interns a chance to practice teaching before they are in formal classroom situation, as well as the opportunity to form rewarding mentoring relationships with the younger girls.

stac students working with high school girls on math projects
STAC students work with high school girls as part of the Girls Exploring Math project.

Dr. Meghan De Witt, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at St. Thomas Aquinas College, has started and is coordinating a Girls Exploring Mathematics (GEM) program. GEM is a dual-mentorship program where Dr. De Witt mentors female math majors, who then mentor high school girls in the local community. Dr. De Witt received a Mathematical Association of America Tensor grant to fund the program, which allows the college to hire undergraduate students as interns and provide classroom and technological support for weekly meetings and planning of the GEM projects.  

“Young girls are often discouraged from pursuing the math-intensive STEM fields.  I started the GEM program to show young girls that women can do math, and do it well; to show them that math is interesting and fun; and to show them that they can be creative while doing math,” explains Dr. De Witt.

The goal of GEM is to interest young girls in mathematics.  Dr. De Witt and this year’s undergraduate interns, Lindsay Miller (Glen Rock, NJ), Mikaila Hulse (Islip, NY), Carolyn Kopf (Garnerville, NY), and Nyenyeri Kanefu (Rutherford, NJ), meet weekly to plan and prepare math lessons and projects.  Three times a year, they travel to local high schools where the interns teach a mathematical presentation to a group of girls. In addition to a hands-on project, each lesson also includes a discussion of ways the math topic is used today and a discussion of female mathematicians who have been involved in the development of the topic. GEM is based on the belief that the best way to learn how to teach math is by doing math. The program gives the interns a chance to practice teaching before they are in formal classroom situation, as well as the opportunity to form rewarding mentoring relationships with the younger girls.

For more information about the Girls Exploring Math project or the College’s mathematics program, contact Dr. De Witt at 845-398-4157 or [email protected] or visit www.stac.edu/math.


St. Thomas Aquinas College is an independent liberal arts college located on 60 acres in Rockland County, NY which provides education at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The College’s 2,800 full and part time students can choose from more than 100 different majors, minors, specializations, and dual degree programs across three Schools: Arts & Sciences, Business, and Education. The College is recognized by U.S. News & World Report in the Top-Tier for Regional Universities, by Colleges of Distinction in both its New York and Catholic editions, by Affordable Colleges Online as a top College in New York for Return on Investment, and is included as a Military Friendly School®. St. Thomas Aquinas College is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools; its School of Education is accredited by National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE); and its School of Business is accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).