BEAM 8th Graders Visit NYC Google Headquarters!

Ever wondered what Google, one of the top multinational technology companies in the world, is like? Our 8th graders got the chance!

This past Friday afternoon, our 8th graders visited the Google NYC headquarters to learn about what working for Google is like. They learned about "Math and Google," Software engineering and Time Complexity Theory! They then took a tour of the building and asked a panel of Googlers some thought-provoking questions. 


Software Engineering was presented by Luis. He assists in developing software to help run Google as a company.


With Luis, students learned how to simulate IP networks. They sent each other "human messages" using IP addresses!


"Math at Google" was presented by Paul. He works with Gmail and uses mathematical equations to make email sorting easier for users!

"Time Complexity Theory: How Fast can a Computer Solve Problems?" was presented by Kenechi. Kenechi is a software engineer who taught our students how computers use Logarithmic Notation to solve problems. 


BEAM students then took a tour of the Google building. They learned the history of the building and the significance of room names (they're all named after NYC landmarks!) They were able to see the game room, which allows Googlers to take a mental break from working in order to help stimulate their brains for more creative ideas. They saw the Google kitchen which allows Googlers to have a well-balanced meal for lunch and provides snacks for when they need them. Google is an awesome place to work at! Employees even travel around in scooters because hallways are so long!

Take a look at these pictures for proof !!

The day at Google ended with a panel discussion. BEAM students asked thought provoking questions to 4 Googlers: Paul Cheong, Justin Venezuela, Molly Alter and Kenechi Ufondu.

Examples of questions were: "What advice would you give to me pursuing a career revolving around my love of math?" "What kind of mathematics is used at Google?" "How does it feel like to be apart of such a large company?" "Is this your dream job?" The panelists were amazing and honest. They provided our students with great insight on what it is like to work for Google.

We hope to see some of our alumni working at Google in the next 10 to 20 years! 

Navigating the High School Maze and BEAM's Plans for Expansions


It's time for the BEAM quarterly newsletter!  In this Winter 2017 issue, learn about how we help students navigate high school admissions, our plans for expansion, available jobs at BEAM, and an update on admissions for 

Read the full newsletter online and sign up at the bottom of our page to receive future editions. 

Admissions Week

It's Admissions Week!  Our BEAM 7 admissions decisions go out tomorrow and our BEAM 6 decisions follow next Friday.

One of the most interesting aspects of BEAM 7 for 2017 is that we are, for the first time ever, admitting many students we already know -- alumni of BEAM 6! All BEAM 7 applicants take our admissions challenge, featuring problems similar to those detailed in the New York Times feature about BEAM and BEAM 6 -- problems that test thinking without relying too heavily on background knowledge. Promising candidates new to BEAM are also invited to an interview to get to know the student and to get to know their mathematical skills by doing problems together.

Our BEAM 6 alums, however, skipped the interviews: we already know them! Instead, they were asked to submit applications to allow us to gauge what they gained from BEAM 6, why they want to attend BEAM 7, and how BEAM can help them reach their goals. Here are some of our favorite responses:







Ivy Harvard.jpg








Thays next steps.jpg


We are thrilled to have 28 BEAM 6 alumni among the students coming to Bard College for BEAM 7 this summer, and to admit 54 student who are new to us as well! Congratulations to all!

High School Placements, a First Draft

This month, BEAM students found out where they will be attending high school.  We are pleased to announce that, so far, 42% of our 8th graders have been admitted to highly selective high schools and 61% have been admitted to selective high schools.  At this point, 79% will be attending "trusted" schools, which meet BEAM's minimum standards for college preparation. We say "at this point" because every year a few students are undermatched in the process. We are currently working with students who were not admitted to high schools that meet our standards to make sure that they can navigate the appeals process and find a good fit for the next four years.

BEAM will have students attending:*

  • Bard High School Early College (8)
  • Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics (6)
  • Brooklyn Technical High School (4)
  • Stuyvesant (3)
  • University Heights High School (3)
  • Bronx High School for Science (2)
  • The Beacon School (2)
  • Midwood High School (2)
  • Pace High School (2)
  • A. Philip Randolph (2) 
  • NEST+m 
  • Staten Island Tech
  • Manhattan/Hunter Science High School
  • Baccalaureate School of Global Education
  • LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts
  • Medgar Evers College Preparatory School
  • Academy for Software Engineering 
  • Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics
  • Urban Assembly Maker Academy

*This doesn’t count everyone with great results to share! Four students are still deciding between great options, like one student deciding between Bronx Science and Bard High School Early College. 

Congratulations are also in order to two 9th graders who are transferring to even stronger high schools.  In the fall, Chuka will be attending Brooklyn Tech and Ezelle will be attending High School of Math, Science, and Engineering at City College. 


Congratulations everyone!

Thanks to Science Sandbox!

Science Sandbox

Announcing: New funding from Science Sandbox!

BEAM is proud to announce a $300,000 grant from Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science

The mission of Science Sandbox is to "unlock scientific thinking by engaging people with the process of science.
We support and help build programs that reinforce a powerful notion: You
don’t have to be a scientist to think like a scientist."

We are deeply grateful for their support and so pleased to have generous funding from like-minded organizations, enabling us to keep BEAM programs running for years to come. 

More About Science Sandbox

Science Sandbox is dedicated to inspiring a deeper interest in science, especially among those who don’t think of themselves as science enthusiasts. We support and collaborate with programs that unlock scientific thinking in everyone.  
Our partnerships invite a wide audience to engage in the scientific process — a process defined by curiosity, contingent upon asking questions, and informed by reliable evidence — to find solutions to everyday problems.
Funded projects include film and other media productions, informal education experiences, live science events and awareness campaigns.
Our funding criteria reflect our belief in the positive effects of infusing the culture with scientific thinking. We seek grantees who bring science to the people, tell science stories in innovative ways, and make science relevant to everyday life.



Leonard Lopate Show

Did you hear?

This week, JJ, Thays, and Emyr were interviewed on the Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC along with journalist Amy Harmon who wrote the piece about math and friendship in The New York Times.  

Thays and Amy

Due to limited mics, JJ and Thays were in studio while Emyr called in from school.  You can listen to the entire live stream online, but here are some highlights from the conversation:

I’m going to spend my entire summer doing math and only math?! My mom automatically made me go.
— JJ
I LOVE math. I wasn’t always good at it. When I found out I was accepted to BEAM, I was excited.
— Thays
Thays showed us a problem she was working on with binary. We had to ask 3-4 questions and she would say yes or no and she could lie only once.
— Emyr
Yup. That was from my Hamming Code course. I learned binary, Hamming Code, Morse code.
— Thays
As long I can remember, I have always liked math. I learned — really hard problems. Fractions, multiplying and dividing fractions inside fractions.
We also learned unsolveable problems.
— Emyr

Let's talk about fractions!  You might be thinking, is that actually advanced for 6th graders? As with any content, the treatment matters. There are easy fraction questions, and then there are deep, interesting questions, like the ones that JJ, Thays, and Emyr were proud to work on in their "Math Fundamentals" course.  Here's a problem we love:

As you can see, the problems are designed to get students to really think about math in the context of fractions: what is true and why?  The other thing that makes this questions special is that they are the type of question a teacher rarely has time to cover during the school day. At BEAM, we care less about the content (fractions) than the thinking students do and we're so glad that our students enjoy the problems in front of them!

Below are some further problems we like:

Nice work, JJ, Thays, and Emyr! It was such a pleasure to hear you talk about BEAM. 

After the show, Melissa Eagan, Executive Producer of the show, gave Thays and JJ a behind the scenes tour of the studio!

After the show, Melissa Eagan, Executive Producer of the show, gave Thays and JJ a behind the scenes tour of the studio!

BEAM Alumni Focus Group

How do we help BEAM alumni?  How can we do better?

BEAM has been running for 6+ years, long enough to have alumni in college and to have grown enormously as a program. As we move past our first 5 years and well into our first decade, we want to know what our students value about BEAM and what else we can do for them.

This month, we convened our first in a series of focus groups of alumni (with separate parent series coming later).

Here's what they had to say!

The best part of BEAM is Office Hours! I had a new teacher for English, and I needed to learn how to write better. And I was in a way harder math class than before. And I felt more comfortable asking “stupid” questions here at BEAM than I did in school.
I wish I had more help knowing how to study.
— Aishat, 11th grade, Brooklyn Friends School
Last summer, I attended BEAM College Prep, which was so helpful. I didn’t really understand financial aid. I took notes on financial aid and I didn’t understand them but then I would refer back to these notes when I did my paperwork. And I heard about special circumstances for undocumented students, how they apply, and I was able to turn around and help my friends. At BEAM College Prep, we picked target, reach, safety schools. Starting my essay during the summer also really helped, being able to brainstorm and refine my ideas. My essay turned out bomb.
— Angelina, 12th grade, East Side Community High School
BEAM was the first time I was away from home. Getting to live at Bard College in BEAM 2013 made college feel real for me.
— Christian, 11th grade, Bard High School Early College
My high school has had one graduating class, so they don’t always know how to help us with college applications. Teachers try to help, but it’s not enough. Last year, students didn’t get the financial aid forms in on time because no one told them what to do. This year, there are 12th graders who were told to apply to only CUNYs and that’s it.
BEAM helped me apply to all kinds of programs that will enable me to navigate college applications: Questbridge, F&M College Prep, LEDA. And then I take that information back and help my classmates.
— Faith, 11th grade, Comprehensive Model School Project
I screwed up in 8th grade and didn’t put Bard on my list (HS application, Round 1 form), so Bard wanted to accept me but the Department of Education couldn’t match me with my dream high school. BEAM took me to a family enrollment center to get a form and fix it.
— Felix, 10th grade, Bard High School Early College
I knew nothing about high school, and neither did my mom because she’s not from here. I had trouble knowing which HS was right for me and BEAM helped.
— Mariam, 8th grade, IS 77
In my HS, there is only 1 guidance counselor for 150 students. She has to write all the letters of recommendations for all the 12th graders and she doesn’t know us because she’s the guidance counselor for 12th graders only.
BEAM knows me and is able to give college advice that’s just right for me. BEAM helped me refine my college list, figuring out what was best for me strategically, which one would give the most money, or where you’re likely to get accepted.
— Taylor, 12th grade, Manhattan/Hunter Science High School

Students also gave feedback on their favorite and least favorite events, how to stay in touch, and what help they still need. 

Aishat: you're in luck. We are adding a week-long HS transition class in August to teach study skills before students start 9th and 10th grade. Mariam already said she will be there!  And thanks to Angelina and Taylor who agreed to form a 12th grade committee to plan our graduation party. 

We can't wait to see what other focus groups will turn up!

AMC 8 Results

As you may recall, students took the AMC 8 contest back in November, and we wanted to report on how they did!

The AMC 8 is a 25 question contest, and it's quite challenging.  This year, 108,295 students nationwide took the contest.  The median (middle) student scored 9 -- just over a third of the questions answered correctly!  To score in the top 25% percentile, students had to score at least 12.  Only 90 students across the world got a perfect score. 

Of the 11 BEAM students who took the contest, seven scored above 9 questions correct, putting them above the nationwide average.  Good work, everyone!  We are particularly impressed by Agata, whose score of 20 puts her the top 5% nationwide, and one question away from making the honor roll. BEAM is sure this a sign of future success yet to come.  


BEAM in The New York Times


Meet Thays:

"I love math," she said, her face lighting up when asked why she had agreed to spend her summer doing math problems.

BEAM was featured in The New York Times over the weekend: "When the Equation is Unequal", an in-depth look at the first summer of BEAM 6 and a profile of three students: JJ, Emyr, and Thays.

Check out the article, and the accompanying feature that introduces the public to BEAM's high quality math problems. 

BEAM alums check out the article.

BEAM alums check out the article.

Welcome extern Janaya to the BEAM team!

It is 2017! And here at BEAM we have started the new year with a new addition to our team. Janaya Shelly joins us as an extern (a shorter version of an internship) from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT – our very own Dan Z’s alma matter). Janaya will be with BEAM for the month of January working on a project to create a database of good-fit colleges specifically catered to BEAM students.

More about Janaya:

Janaya is currently a sophomore at MIT majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry. She was born and raised in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania and attended public schools all throughout her adolescence. She knew she wanted to be a doctor since she was 11 and is interested in pursuing an M.D/Ph.D. (two doctoral degrees in the medical field). Her dream is to run clinical trials for anti-cancer therapeutic drugs and be the head of a laboratory.

“MIT is hard. MIT is intense. But the people are great.”

“MIT is hard. MIT is intense. But the people are great.”

Janaya’s journey to MIT:

Janaya attended public high school in Lehigh Valley. She was very active in her community and was involved in many clubs and sports. She volunteered, took AP classes and college courses. Janaya applied early action to MIT. She applied to 20 colleges and universities! But MIT was her number one choice. Janaya believes that MIT has the resources to help her succeed and attain her goals of becoming a doctor.


While Janaya looked through her MIT online database that contained a plethora of possible externships she could apply to, BEAM stood out to her. What BEAM aims to accomplish is very similar to what Janaya does with her free time. Janaya tutors and mentors low-income students who are academically talented (in all subjects). She’s the co-founder of a start-up called “Lean On Me,” which is a dedicated volunteer organization designed to give college students a non-judgemental space to text-in and share their experiences. Janaya is also an activist who values doing things that are beneficial to her community. She values working with underserved populations of low-income backgrounds to assist in “bringing up the next generation of influential people who are going to make a difference.” Though Janaya joins the BEAM team for a month, she will be a huge asset for everyone at BEAM!