BHSU educator shares teaching insights from Advanced Mathematics program

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, September 4, 2018/Categories: Academic Affairs, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, College of Liberal Arts, Community, Events, Faculty, 2018

For the past five years, Dr. Dan May, an assistant professor at Black Hills State University, has spent part of his summer nurturing the mathematics talent of underserved seventh graders. May will share insights and math activities from The Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM) program in the next Geek Speak lecture, “Bridging the Gap: Diversity in the STEM Pipeline” Thursday, Sept. 6 at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall room 110.

Sponsored by the University Honors Program, the Geek Speak Lecture Series at BHSU encourages the discussion of topics not normally discussed in the traditional classroom. All Geek Speaks are free and open to the public.

May cites a report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress where 3 percent of low-income eighth graders score at the Advanced level in mathematics. By 12th grade, the percentage of low-income students scoring at the Advanced level is not even given—it “rounds to zero”.

To address these types of statistics, the BEAM program aims offers advanced enrichment learning in mathematics to middle school students from low-income neighborhoods across New York City and Los Angeles.

May says serving as a BEAM teacher in New York has enhanced his college teaching at BHSU.

“It’s interesting to see these different types of teaching, both with middle school students and university-level students, talk to each other and connect. All that I’ve learned from working the BEAM students has made my college teaching better,” says May.

As a teacher at the BEAM summer residential program, May teaches two, week-long courses totaling around 36 hours of intense teaching time. He’s taught finite geometry each year at BEAM and a variety of other classes including number theory, probability and statistics.

“We’re reaching out to these students who have capabilities in math but come from socioeconomic backgrounds who might not have access to enrichment programs to nurture those talents,” says May. “The ultimate goal of BEAM is to increase the number of students from underserved communities who are prepared to earn STEM degrees and succeed in STEM careers.”

During the Geek Speak lecture, May will discuss the work of BEAM and frame the need for such a program, and encourages participation from students of all ages and abilities to be challenged by some of the activities from his BEAM courses.

May helps to coordinate a group in South Dakota with a similar goal to BEAM: Black Hills Math Circle. All high-school level students and teachers are invited to attend the first BHMC meeting of the academic year Saturday, Oct. 13 at BHSU in Spearfish. For more information, contact May at or 605-642-6380.

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