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Math Student Selected for National Research Experience

April 17, 2014

“Undergraduate research experiences that bring mathematics and education scholars together are very rare. This is a proud accomplishment.” — Jessie Store.

An Alma College secondary education and mathematics student has been chosen as one of only eight students from a national pool of applicants to participate in a summer research experience funded by the National Science Foundation.

Katie Krauss, a third-year student from Jackson, will attend the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program on “Combinatorics, Design Theory and Graph Theory,” which is hosted by Illinois State University.

The summer research experience is intended for eight secondary education mathematics undergraduates and four experienced secondary mathematics teachers. The eight-week program runs from June 9 to Aug. 1 and focuses on research problems and exemplary teaching practices. The benefits for the selected students include housing, meals, travel and stipend of $4,000.

Krauss discovered the opportunity last year when she was reviewing a list of NSF-funded REU programs in mathematics.

“For a lot of math REUs, you get a math problem, you investigate it, and then you present it,” says Krauss. “This one, because it’s math education, takes a different approach. So we’ll be looking more at the problems, but then how that applies to teaching mathematics.”

As part of the experience, Krauss and the other participants will host a mathematics camp for students from Chicago.

“It’s breaking out of the ‘here’s a problem, now go look in your book and solve it’ approach to bringing different topics in mathematics together and applying them to education,” says Krauss.

Krause is a committed student who reflects the mission of Alma College, says Jessie Store, an assistant professor of education at Alma.

“She works hard and draws from her liberal arts experiences at Alma College and her K-12 experience to critically think about the content that she will be teaching and the context in which her teaching will be situated,” says Store. “I believe her work ethic and experiences will make her an outstanding researcher this summer.

“Undergraduate research experiences that bring mathematics and mathematics education scholars together are very rare,” says Store. “This is a proud accomplishment because it gives more evidence that Katherine is capable of engaging with the mathematics and research and can apply her knowledge and skills to make the math accessible to others.”