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Archive for January, 2014

Face to Face

January 29th, 2014 by Alice Fisher

Rice professor, Steve Cox claimed he’s a little bit selfish as we talked about his outreach program called Worthing Rice Apprentice Program or WRAP. His program evolved from a previous Rice project that connected Rice professors and students with HISD students via web conferences. After joining the effort, Dr. Cox quickly came to the conclusion that “nothing beats face-to-face contact,” and that he “really wants to be part of the students’ joy of discovery. I want to see the ‘Eureka’ moments face to face. I want to slap them on the back or receive a hug rather than receiving reviews that someone learned a lot…I’m kinda selfish that way.”

For more than 10 years, WRAP has been offering a hands-on introduction and integration of mathematics, biology, electronics, and computer programming as students learn about how the brain learns. Dr. Cox is on sabbatical this year so we recently chatted via Skype about his program.  Listen as he discusses the goals of his program and view photos of the Worthing apprentices and Rice undergraduate and graduate mentors.

Dr. Cox concludes the video with what he tells his Worthing apprentices, that most of their jobs are going to require if not a STEM degree, the ability to interact with people with STEM degrees. His program is trying to create a somewhat different mindset among this community, “to get them to become creators, not just users of others’ technologies.”

Another reason Dr. Cox initiated this program was to get Rice undergraduate students involved in community outreach.  Zachary Kilpatrick, one of the first Rice undergraduate mentors of WRAP, is now an assistant professor at the University of Houston (UH) and has been instrumental in starting the UH outreach program, CHAMP (Cougars and Hope Academy Mathematics Program). Current mentor and Rice upperclassman, Sarah Schwettmann, has been involved with WRAP since being a freshman.  She’s learned that “the relationships you build with the apprentices hugely determine how transformative the learning experience is for both the mentors and the high school students.”  She also treasures the community that WRAP has built through academics and education.

WRAP is undergoing transitions and is now called the Rice BrainSTEM program.  For various reasons, the program took a break this past fall and is resuming at KIPP Sunnyside High School located a couple miles away from Worthing High School.  It is Dr. Cox’s hope that his program can work with both schools in the future.  Learn more about Rice BrainSTEM here.

Thank you, Professor Cox, for taking time to share your fantastic program with the RUSMP community.