Halliburton Grant Helps Fund New Texas A&M Math Outreach Program
COLLEGE STATION -- Halliburton, the Houston-based oilfield service powerhouse, has provided Texas A&M University with a $26,700 grant to establish an innovative high school mathematics program designed to better educate students about connections between the classroom and the company's emerging petrol technologies as well as future careers.
Awarded through the Texas A&M Foundation, the grant represents Halliburton's inaugural collaborative endeavor with the College of Science -- a move that officials say underscores the university's proven performance in delivering STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and outreach. Specifically, the gift will provide resources to help create and maintain a comprehensive curriculum for a new mathematics outreach initiative, "Mathematics All Around Us: Oil and Gas Applications."
Dr. Sandra Nite, senior lecturer of mathematics, and Dr. G. Donald Allen, professor and former associate head of the Department of Mathematics, are serving as principal and co-principal investigators, respectively, for the one-year grant, intended to incorporate industry insight and innovation in the classroom.
"The fact is, this is one of the biggest grants they've ever funded in the Department of Mathematics, so we were very impressed to win this," Allen says. "It shows they have continued faith in Texas A&M, and we hope this will be the start of something long-term. We feel there is a lot of potential in working with Halliburton and supporting the things they do."
Targeted to high school sophomores and juniors, "Mathematics All Around Us" creates Algebra I and Algebra II-level lesson plans derived from their applications to the oil and gas industries, particularly as related to Halliburton. Course material will be drawn from some of the company's most innovative technologies, such as the CleanWave™ Water Treatment System and Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS), the lessons of which range from linear and exponential modeling to computing energy value.
Allen says the program deviates from traditional mathematics education by relying less on textbooks and more on a variety of assignments that explore the mathematical concepts related to the oil industry, from short problems to Project-based Learning (PBL) examples that may take several days to complete. These PBL activities will test students' skills in problem solving and investigative reasoning in ways that are reflective of different scenarios faced by the oil and gas workforce to show students how real-life mathematical and decision problems are constant factors.
Where applicable, "Mathematics All Around Us" also will implement the 5-E Instructional Model (engage, explore, explain, extend and evaluate), strategies designed to interest greater numbers of students -- including females and minorities -- in STEM fields by identifying the many career opportunities in the oil and gas industry.
Allen notes that all material will be aligned with standards set forth in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) developed by the Texas Education Agency. He and Nite will distribute the lesson plans and materials to various educators across the state -- including recipients of their Teacher Quality grants -- for their future use. Two teachers, one from Katy and one from Austin, already have adopted portions of the program for use in their respective classrooms. In addition, Allen and Nite plan to oversee the work, guiding teachers toward resources and creating a website to feature vital lesson plan components.
Allen and Nite each boast extensive experience in the professional development of secondary school teachers, and Nite says they both have encountered issues that demonstrate the need for better correlation between STEM educational offerings and real-life scenarios. She says many students disregard the need for math-based education and hopes that, with Halliburton's help, "Mathematics All Around Us" will give them an incentive to appreciate the subject.
"Problems we've seen include a general lack of knowledge among students about jobs that are available out there," Nite adds. "This is also where students may tend to not be motivated, because they may not see the need for doing mathematics. Now they can see why we need to know these things and how they are used in the real world."
Established in 1965, the Halliburton Foundation supports education at all levels and charitable organizations through employee matching gifts, direct grants and scholarships. For more information, visit http://www.halliburton.com/.
To learn more about outreach programs in Texas A&M Mathematics, go to http://www.math.tamu.edu/outreach/.
Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Dr. Sandra Nite, (979) 845-1170 or email@example.com, or Dr. G. Donald Allen, (979) 845-7950 or firstname.lastname@example.org