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Math Programs Begin

Middle Schoolers’ Summer Fitness, Math Programs Begin at UC Riverside

The ALPHA Center’s Healthy Bodies-Healthy Minds, GEMS Bring Middle Schoolers to Campus

(July 21, 2004)

Left to Right: India Lovekin, Sydnee Saenz, and Kayla Masters enjoy activities at GEMS.

Left to Right: India Lovekin, Sydnee Saenz, and Kayla Masters enjoy activities at GEMS.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — July 21, 2004 — Nearly 70 middle school students from Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties came to the University of California, Riverside Student Recreation Center the week of July 19 to July 23 for two programs designed to keep both the mind and the body sharp.

On Monday, Victor Elementary School District officials observed one of the programs, Healthy Bodies-Healthy Minds, to see if they might incorporate some of its elements for a proposed magnet school that will focus on mathematics, health sciences and physical fitness, according to Pamela Clute, executive director of the ALPHA Center, which organized the summer programs.

From 9 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. each day, boys and girls entering 7th or 8th grade participate in Healthy Bodies-Healthy Minds. They learn about mathematics as it relates to health, physical education as it relates to a healthy lifestyle, self-motivation and character development. The program’s goal is to stimulate awareness and self-exploration through activities that engage, motivate, enlighten and challenge the body and mind. It helps participants develop into well-rounded individuals by balancing the roles of health education, fitness, nutrition and a positive mental attitude. Students from Colton, Huntington Beach, Moreno Valley, Placentia-Yorba Linda, Redlands and Riverside are among the participants.

The Healthy Body-Healthy Mind program also offers a spinal screening and health awareness presentation by staff members from the Riverside-based Children’s Spine Foundation, which was established by Dr. Thomas Haider, an assistant clinical professor in the UC Riverside Biomedical program.

The afternoons, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. includes the GEMS (Girls Excelling in Mathematics with Success) program, which is designed specifically for girls entering 7th or 8th grade. The course focus for the 33 girls enrolled is on mathematics as it relates to college and to business, and is presented in a stimulating environment so that mathematics is seen as interesting and relevant to their lives. The goal of the program is to empower girls in middle school with knowledge about mathematics and community service, as well as knowledge about mentoring and supporting one another.

Students from Corona, Loma Linda, Moreno Valley, Riverside, Redlands and San Bernardino are participating.

“Dr. Clute makes learning so interesting,” said Margaret Zhou, 12, of Riverside, a Healthy Bodies-Healthy Minds participant. “It's a lot better than what you learn in school. At school, they don't really care if it's interesting.”

Kyle Ehlers, 11, of Moreno Valley agreed, saying he hopes his new-found interest in mathematics will help him become a marine biologist some day.

Students participating in both programs will receive books, materials, and supplies intended to enhance their learning and retention of mathematical ideas. Students will also be provided with UC Riverside memorabilia such as tote bags, T-shirts and necklaces. Both programs are organized by the ALPHA Center at UC Riverside.

The ALPHA Center was established in 1998 to increase the historically low rate of college-qualified high school graduates from inland Southern California, and to ensure their success once enrolled. At the time, one in three inland Southern California high school students qualified for college, well below the 60 percent statewide and 65 percent national averages. ALPHA Center staff answer this need by creating programs, which prepare students to enter or excel in college. The center staff also trains teachers to more completely master their subjects, and researches how students learn to determine which teaching methods are most effective.

Student and teacher-based ALPHA programs have reached about 84,000 students, 6,700 teachers and 400 administrators. Research has helped ALPHA staff develop 15 programs that have reached more than 150 school sites in Riverside, San Bernardino and eastern Los Angeles counties.
Margaret Zhou, right, and a friend study the algorithms that comprise spirals during a Healthy Minds-Healthy Bodies workshop.

Margaret Zhou, right, and a friend study the algorithms that comprise spirals during a Healthy Minds-Healthy Bodies workshop.


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