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Math program for Hmong students receives grant funding from collegiate mathematics association

March 27, 2012
Manda Riehl
Dr. Manda Riehl
EAU CLAIRE — The Mathematical Association of America has awarded a $4,057 grant to a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire program designed to stimulate interest in mathematics among Hmong high school students in the Eau Claire area.

Dr. Manda Riehl, UW-Eau Claire assistant professor of mathematics and director of the OOMPH (Opportunities for Outstanding Mathematics Performance for Hmong Students) program, recently received word that MAA's Tensor-SUMMA: Strengthening Underrepresented Minority Mathematics Achievement grants program had awarded funding to the OOMPH program for the third consecutive year.

"Our goal is to increase the number of math courses taken at the college/university level among Hmong students," Riehl said. "We do mathematical activities and lessons that prepare students to compete in UW-Eau Claire's Mathematics Meet (held every February) and hopefully stimulate their interest in mathematics."

Eight UW-Eau Claire mathematics majors and minors participate in the campus-based program as mentors, working in small groups with the high school students during 12 sessions held every other week from September to February. In addition, two mathematics education majors work from April until February, assisting UW-Eau Claire faculty in planning the program's activities and lessons. Dr. Dandrielle Lewis, assistant professor of mathematics, helped coordinate this year's program.

"The program also features Hmong speakers and field trips that inform the high school students about how mathematics is useful in a wide range of careers, from computer science to manufacturing," Riehl said.

Program attendance varies from week to week, Riehl said, adding that a total of 28 high school students participated this past year.

All program participants benefit from their involvement, Riehl said.

"The Hmong students learn about math in a way different from a high school classroom, and they are able to include the program on their college applications, showing their extracurricular dedication to their education," Riehl said. "Our UW-Eau Claire student mentors gain relationships with Hmong high school students, experience working with the Hmong community, have a chance to improve their tutoring skills and earn 30 service-learning hours."

UW-Eau Claire students participating in this year's program were Julia Baranek, Port Washington; Meghan Christenson, McFarland; Steve Genrich, Two Rivers; Bret Meier, Oshkosh; Nick Oelze, North St. Paul; Li Boon Tay, Eau Claire; Hilary Wiltgen, Merrill; and Kok Chee Yew, Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

More information about the OOMPH program is available from Riehl at 715-836-4616 or riehlar@uwec.edu.

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