The Mathematics of Making and Playing Drums Explored at RIT




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Yes, that is the sound of drums you hear coming from the Rochester Institute of Technology campus.

The drummers are 45 eighth- and ninth-grade students from Frederick Douglass Preparatory School and Edison Technical and Occupational Education Center in the Rochester City School District. They're attending a summer math camp, taught by City School District teachers and RIT students as teacher assistants. To learn math concepts and applications, students make drums and work on drum-playing exercises. The program is held daily from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Aug. 6.

Some of the teachers completed Project Lead the Way teacher-training workshops, offered by the National Technology Training Center at RIT, and some trained through the Algebra Project, an initiative to help low-income and minority students improve their math skills. For the past year, Project Lead the Way and the Algebra Project collaborated on a project called Synergy: Mathematics and Pre-engineering Curriculum Integration in Secondary Schools. The project, supported by a $77,500 development grant from the Math Excellence initiative of the GE Foundation, the philanthropic arm of General Electric Co, aims to help minority students succeed in science, math and technology studies.

“The Algebra Project and Project Lead the Way help prepare students for successful studies in technical fields,” says Guy Johnson, interim dean of RIT's College of Applied Science and Technology.