About

What

Learning Exchange (LE) is a new initiative in the PASA AfterZone framework by Brown University students that seeks to build excitement around learning math through technology. Because Providence students are falling behind in math, LE courses use computers to show middle schoolers how they can apply the subject in fun and creative ways. Students have the opportunity to become computer scientists and craft games and animations using MIT’s Scratch environment, or they can become digital music virtuosos and use mixing software to mash up their favorite hip-hop songs and loops. Kids are also encouraged to take ownership of their learning by completing a self-directed project over the duration of each course. Overall, LE is based on one simple realization: that learning is most fun and exciting when it is made relevant to each student.

From late April through mid-May, we ran a four-week LE pilot at Bridgham Middle School. (Our pilot summary report can be found here.) Our scaled-up program for the fall AfterZone session at DelSesto Middle School began in mid-October and will run through mid-December.

Why

We’re focused on math because teachers and administrators told us that was where their kids were weakest. Their anecdotes are supported by alarming statistics: in 2009, only 15 percent of eighth graders at Bridgham Middle School achieved proficiency or better in math on the New England Common Assessment Program, far below the 54 percent statewide average. Bridgham was closed down in June due to the city’s budget crunch, but LE’s new home at DelSesto only fares marginally better, with 31 percent of students reaching proficiency in 2010.

As students at Brown University, we know we can’t fix everything — but we can leverage campus resources and student passion to make a difference. By getting students excited about learning in general and math in particular, we hope to motivate and inspire them to own their education and get on the path to college.

Who

LE is run by Brown students, and LE teachers are all Brown student volunteers. Below is a list of our Fall 2011 student staff. (Also see our listing of partners from the Brown and Providence communities.)

Coordinators

Andrew DiMarco ’15
Miraj Shah ’15

Teachers

Alex Leblang ’15
Andrew DiMarco ’15
Ankit Shah ’16
Arthur Yidi ’14
Diego Morales ’15
Haily Tran ’16
Miles Eldon ’15
Miraj Shah ’15
Zach Korol-Gold ’15