Original Date: 04/07/1997
Revision Date: 04/14/2003
Information : Math and Science Are Great Program
The Math and Science Are Great (MASAG) program is an educational awareness and mentoring program aimed at young students in the seventh and eighth grades to increase their level of interest in math and science. The program, initiated by Rock Island Arsenal (RIA) for local students, was the catalyst for Army arsenals and depots throughout the U.S. to adopt similar programs.
In 1988, the Education Enterprise Division of RIA launched an effort to address the math and science deficiencies of the youth in the local community that would make up the future workforce pool for the RIA and the Quad City community workforce. At the same time, a Presidential Executive Order on education encouraged and allowed federal activities to participate in outreach and support activities that increased the educational awareness in math and science for the youths of the Nation. The order was based on the fact that fewer students are pursuing careers in science and engineering. While 12% of freshman entered engineering college in 1982, only 9% entered in 1987; more than 50% of Ph.D.s in engineering are foreign students; and, although woman and minorities are projected to make up 55% of the workforce in the year 2000, they are under represented in the scientific fields. Driven by these statistics, RIA took action to develop an educational awareness and mentoring program.
In 1989, the Education Enterprise Division launched the MASAG program. The program’s key elements included awareness, mentoring, and recognition. The program was aimed at seventh and eighth grade females and minorities from the local community. Resources were drawn from the RIA workforce, primarily from the research and development group, consisting of engineers and scientists with Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. degrees. A mentoring program was established where RIA employees volunteered their time to mentor students, bring them to the worksite two to four times per month, visit their schools, and provide one-on-one personal counseling. Contests were held to encourage their interest in math and science. Students are recognized for their achievements through certificates and awards.
RIA was instrumental in obtaining public funds for the establishment of the Army National Science Center located in Atlanta, Georgia, which sponsors four mobile Discovery vans that travel all over the country to various Army installations for show and tell at each site. Each van is equipped with a driver, two presenters, math and science teaching aids, and videos. Typically, the vans stay at a site for one week and conduct a series of two to three hour long programs for 40 to 50 students at a time. When in the Quad-Cities, as many as 1,600 students experienced the Discovery van.
RIA continues to be an active contributor to the community and a catalyst for the Army in its math and science educational awareness MASAG program. The response by the youths in the area has rewarded RIA and the community with confidence that their interest in math and science is growing, and careers are being pursued in the scientific fields.
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