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Math Program Offers Intense Training for Low-Income Students

Mark Primoff


Math Program Offers Intense Training for Low-Income Students

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—This summer, 38 rising 8th-graders are spending three weeks doing seven hours of math per day—and loving it. They are part of a new experiment, the Summer Program in Mathematical Problem Solving (SPMPS), designed to create pathways for underserved students to truly succeed in mathematics and to address the looming shortage of experts in math-oriented fields.

In its second year, SPMPS is a three-week residential program run by the Art of Problem Solving Foundation and held at Bard College. The program, which accepts students in New York City public schools where 75% or more of the student body receives free lunch, is helping its 38 young scholars explore beautiful, advanced mathematics taken from beyond the school curriculum. It has more than doubled in size from the 17 students served in summer 2011 through a new grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. 

“There's nothing for students who are good at mathematics, but aren't plugged in to the big networks of math competitions and math circles and summer programs. Their potential is being wasted, which is a tragedy for them and a tragedy for our country,” explained Dan Zaharopol, Executive Director of the Art of Problem Solving Foundation.

The program's 38 students were selected from a total student body of 2000 seventh graders spread across 18 schools across New York City, with concentrations in the South Bronx and Harlem.

“In three weeks we provide an intense introduction to abstract mathematics, problem solving, and the culture of mathematics. Our students work on math at all hours even when we try to stop them. They see that math is much more than just finding the right answer,” said Mr. Zaharopol.

SPMPS is closely integrated with programs across Bard College. “I'm amazed to see the students’ educational trajectories after SPMPS. Some have gone on to some very selective NYC public high schools, and all of them are going to breathe life into their high school's math program,” explained Japheth Wood, professor of mathematics at Bard.

After SPMPS, the students are assisted in applications to other programs. They are additionally connected with volunteer mentors and taken on tours of companies and universities in New York City.

The Art of Problem Solving Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to promoting opportunities to experience mathematical problem solving for middle and high school students across the United States. The Foundation was formed in 2004 by the Art of Problem Solving (AoPS). AoPS develops resources for high-performing middle and high school students, including the largest online community of avid math students in the English-speaking world. The AoPS online school has trained many winners of major national mathematics competitions, including several gold medalists at the International Math Olympiad, Davidson Fellows, and winners of the Intel and Siemens Talent Search competitions.

For more information about this program contact

Daniel Zaharopol, Program Director, at (888) 264-2793, or, or  go to

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This event was last updated on 07-25-2012