On a recent visit to Chicago (doing X-ray experiments which require a lot of math), I enjoyed reading your Feb. 15 editorial, "Collaboration that adds up to student success." As a physics professor, I often find my own students lack sufficient math skills, which are absolutely necessary to succeed in science and applied science (engineering) when they enroll in my courses. In some sense, it is almost too late by the time they reach university to remediate their deficiencies.
The key is to encourage and motivate students to succeed in mathematics, the language of all science, as early as possible. This can only be achieved by partnering with local school districts and teachers at all levels, not just high school, so that they won't waste precious time taking remedial courses when they enter college. I myself have given a number of lectures in local precollege schools and have invited students to visit my laboratories both in Las Vegas and at Argonne National Laboratory and have found that even a small amount of exposure to the exciting world of scientific research can go a long way toward motivating students to go on the correct path to succeed. It all starts with math.
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Today, our nation, more than ever, needs skilled and properly educated professionals who are well versed in science and math from which so many miracles that drive our modern society emanate and from which we depend for our national security, economy and well-being.
I salute Harper College's efforts to work more closely with local school districts to help students become proficient in mathematics and hope that other colleges and universities follow suit.
Michael Pravica, Ph.D.
Associate professor of physics
University of Nevada, Las Vegas