December 13, 2006

New UCSB Basketball Program Helps Cultivate Interest in Math by Local Third Graders

Dec. 13, 2006

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara Men's Basketball "Mathlete" Program is a new undertaking by the Gaucho men's basketball team. This educational enterprise targets third grade students in the Santa Barbara-Goleta community. UCSB athletes interact with students as a way of stressing the importance of education, hard work, participation and creativity.

• Pairs of athletes visit classrooms and conduct a brief math lesson. As part of the lesson, the athletes explain how they use the skills that they learned in third grade every day to do what they love: play basketball. Through this, the young students realize the connection between their future goals and the education they are currently pursuing.

• Students are given a brief exercise worksheet in which they answer sports based math questions. One question asks students to think of their own sports math problem and share it with the class. This gives student the opportunity to recognize how math is not only important both in and out of the classroom, but how math can also be fun.

• The athletes and students also interact personally during a set-aside question and answer period. From what ice cream they like best to which letter of the alphabet is their favorite, students have a chance--and do--ask any and all questions about the athletes. Through this, the students get to know athletes as individuals and friends.

• Complementing the athletes' in-class visit, each teacher incorporates her own lesson plan into the Mathlete Program in the weeks following. In order to complete the program and become "Official Mathletes" the students must continue to work hard with their teachers and classmates long after the athletes' visit.

• Students who complete the program become an "Official Mathlete" and are rewarded with free admission to the December 19th men's basketball game for themselves and their parents. At the game, students will receive a certificate and will be recognized on the court for making the 2006 UCSB Mathlete Roster.

"We are excited for our basketball program to be out connecting with our community," said Gaucho head coach Bob Williams. "We see it as a true honor for our players to spend time in the local classrooms of today's youth. We hope to find more ways to be involved with kids and families from our community in the future."

"The Athletes came and the kids loved having them teach about math," began Sarah Woodburn, a third grade teacher at Hollister Elementary School in Goleta. "It was truly a highlight of the year. They did an excellent job of presenting the lesson and talking to the kids about the importance of math. The kids worked hard on the lesson and because they had prizes, many of the students were more motivated to give answers. Overall it was a great experience for them and me. I think it is a really fine program."