Milby High School kicked off the new Milby STEM Institute Magnet Program (MSI) with a Rice campus mathematics tour on June 6, 2018. The tour provided 13 incoming MSI freshmen with the opportunity to visit the Rice campus to participate in the Rice University School Mathematics Project‘s (RUSMP) famous mathematics tour of the campus.
RUSMP Directors, Anne Papakonstantinou and Richard Parr led the students on an exploration of the mathematics of the Rice campus including translating the Roman numerals on the cornerstone of Lovett Hall, identifying the various symmetries of shapes on campus, estimating the number of centimeter holes in the decorative frieze at one of the entrances to Anderson Hall, and identifying the measures of the angles of the granite sculptures in the engineering quadrangle. Students experimented with the whispering niches and the acoustically-active vaulted ceiling in Herzstein Hall and marveled at the engineering feat of turning the statue of William Marsh Rice to face Fondren Library. They discovered concentric circles on campus and marveled at the stylized hyperbolic triangles at the entrance of the Humanities building. During the tour, students also learned more about college life from RUSMP’s research intern, Alejandro Vazquez, a sophomore student visiting from Pomona College. Dr. Papakonstantinou emphasized the importance of hosting such visits: “It is essential for us to reach out beyond Rice’s hedges to provide Houston-area students with opportunities that allow them to see themselves attending selective universities such as Rice.”
MSI, open to students throughout the Houston Independent School District, is designed to provide students with a variety of STEM career programs including applied health sciences, computer science, and petroleum exploration and engineering. The program includes a rigorous academic curriculum designed to prepare students for college and career opportunities. Enhanced with real-world learning experiences, students will participate in job shadowing, industry forums, externships, fieldtrips, and earn entry-level industry certifications.
The Rice visit was part of a one-month summer program designed to introduce incoming students to the variety of careers available in STEM and to better prepare them for their high school courses. Patricia McMorris, Milby High School mathematics teacher and department chairperson and Rice University National Science Foundation Noyce Master Teaching Fellow, who organized the visit commented; “The students loved coming to the Rice campus. They are looking forward to coming back one day as students.”