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BEAM Newsletter, Pre-summer 2019 Edition: BEAM's Biggest Summer Yet, College Decision Day, Career Day, and more
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BEAM's Biggest Summer Yet

Students at BEAM Discovery 2018 learn to program Arduino boards and build their own vehicles.

This summer, 420 students will attend BEAM programs across New York and California. We're especially excited to welcome the 46 students who will be the first-ever California cohort of the BEAM Pathway Program, kicking off with three weeks of intensive math at Harvey Mudd College. They're an amazing group of students, many of whom are returning for their second summer of BEAM!

College Decision Day 2019

BEAM 12th graders joined seniors from across New York City to announce their college plans from the stage of the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem! Back, from left: Felix (Syracuse), Teo (City Tech), Mayra (Lehigh), Kiana (Howard), Kadija (Princeton), Moses (NYU). Front: Crisleidy (Baruch).
Congratulations to our graduating seniors who have been attending BEAM programs since 2014! This year’s graduates were accepted at an impressive list of schools, including:
Clark University
Columbia University
CUNY
Dartmouth College
Franklin & Marshall College
Howard University
New York University
Pennsylvania State
Princeton University
Smith College
Spelman College
SUNY
Swarthmore College
Vanderbilt University

The full list of schools and more here.

A special shout-out to Kadija (Princeton) and Lennin (Franklin & Marshall). Kadija was selected as a 2018 Questbridge College Match Scholarship Recipient. Questbridge helps outstanding low-income high school seniors gain admission and full four-year scholarships to highly selective colleges. Lennin was named a Posse Scholar. Posse Scholars receive full-tuition leadership scholarships. 

Watch Out World, Here We Come

At Career Day 2019, professionals in STEM, law, sales, medicine, business, education, and more spoke about their professional journeys and networked with BEAM students in small groups and one-on-one. “Meeting BEAM students was an absolute pleasure,” noted Alex, who is a program director at Global Glimpse. “I enjoyed our conversations so much that I stuck around afterwards with an incredible group of students to keep talking. They amazed and inspired me!”

“BEAM students connected immediately with the mentors, were eager to learn more about different careers, and asked amazing questions,” said Sylvia Ortega, BEAM’s High School Programs Social Worker.

BEAM works hard to provide diverse role models for our students, and it really matters. "It was so refreshing to see a panel made up of a diverse group of people not only regarding their ethnicity, race and background, but also their studies,” said Crisleidy, a BEAM alum. “I got to see how diversely a STEM degree could be applied to fit different careers."
Nurisha illustrates how she uses math in her work as an electrical engineer while talking with Lucas.

What We're Reading

The College Board’s new “adversity score” has generated a lot of headlines. We're devoting this section to discussing the new score.

This fall, the College Board, which administers the SAT exam, will expand access to a new “adversity score” meant to measure a student’s “disadvantage.” To figure the adversity score, the College Board considers 31 pieces of information about a student’s neighborhood and school (but not about the individual student), including median incomes, poverty, unemployment, and crime rates. The score does not consider race or ethnicity.

Some college admissions representatives have reported finding the scores useful because they allow admissions officers to see students’ SAT scores in the context of where they live and attend school. One study of the pilot version of the adversity score found that using it resulted in more offers of admission to low-income applicants. The impact on racial diversity has not been analyzed.

But the adversity score also has its critics. Some people call the new score further proof of the shortcomings of the SAT itself. The test has long been criticized because of racial disparities in SAT scores. In recognition of this, more than 1,200 schools have made the SAT (and ACT) optional. Others are concerned that wealthier, more privileged families will find ways to turn the score to their advantage, or that the score cannot really take into consideration the complexity of individuals’ lives and experiences.

Finally, some worry that the availability of the score will send the wrong message that enough is being done to improve outcomes for disadvantaged students.

Like it or not, it’s clear the adversity score is only a small step, and an imperfect one at that, toward opening up college admissions.

Snap, Snap!

A Shout-Out To Some Amazing BEAM Students

Congratulations to Eric and Rawin, who were selected for prestigious summer math programs! Eric is BEAM’s first-ever student accepted to PROMYS (Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists), a summer program at Boston University for students to dive into number theory, and Rawin was accepted to MathPath, a summer program for students ages 11-14 who show high promise and love math.

Tiffani is taking charge! On the 65th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, Tiffani spoke at a press conference on the steps of New York’s City Hall, demanding educational equity in the city’s public schools (which are among the most segregated in the nation). Check out Tiffani's interview on Chalkbeat and read more about the Teens Take Charge plan for educational equity.

Kathaleen (Kathy) is talking periods. (Yep, that kind.) Kathy and six classmates won National Public Radio’s Student Podcast Challenge (chosen from more than 6,000 entries) with their podcast, Sssh! Periods (4:27), which takes on the stigma of talking about menstruation. Learn more at Code Switch, the NPR podcast about race and identity, where Kathy and her friends were interviewed.

When the New York City Schools Chancellor visited Patrick Henry Preparatory School, Amber took over his Instagram to talk about math! Check it out here (2:20).

From top left: Kathy, Rawin, Tiffani, Amber, Eric

... And Now For Some Math

One of BEAM's Saturday classes for 8th graders and high school students this past semester was combinatorial game theory. In this class, students learned about different kinds of games, that it is possible to add games together and treat them (sort of) like numbers, and how all of a certain kind of games are equivalent to one particular game called Nim. If you want a taste of this, here's a classic problem students considered at the beginning of class.

Suppose there are 25 tokens in a pile. On each turn, players alternate removing either 1 or 2 tokens, and they keep going until the pile runs out. The last person who takes a token wins. (It doesn't matter how many they took, just who gets to take the last one.) Which player has a strategy to guarantee that they win, and how do they do it?

Check out the solution here.

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