Algebra Academy Gives Eighth Graders a Pathway to College

Posted by Reposted from another publication on Mar 18, 2015

by Peggy Townsend, UC Santa Cruz Newscenter

Thirteen-year-old Alejandra Ponce selected an L-shaped game piece and fitted it carefully onto the playing board in front of her. Her goal was to block her schoolmates from placing their own geometric pieces and, thus, win the contest. 

It’s fun,” Ponce said of the game called Blokus as she and three other students counted up their scores in the Merrill Multicultural Center on Friday. “It’s mind twisting.

What might have been even more mind-twisting for the Rolling Hills Middle School eighth-grader was that the game — part of a day-long event at UC Santa Cruz — was actually an exercise in transformational geometry and that her enthusiasm for it lies at the very heart of a unique collaboration between construction materials giant Graniterock, UC Santa Cruz, and CSU Monterey Bay. 

Called Algebra Academy, the program is designed to boost math education at rural schools and pave the way for more students to go to college. Founded four years ago by Graniterock’s late president and owner Bruce Woolpert, the program’s centerpiece is an intense, week-long algebra camp held at the company’s headquarters in Watsonville.
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