About Our Students

Our Favorite Math

This summer, at BEAM Summer Away at Harvey Mudd College, we asked students, What was your favorite math problem of the summer?

Adib chose a problem from the class Solving Big Problems: Can you add or subtract the numbers between 1 through n inclusive to get 0?

Don Laackman, BEAM’s Program Coordinator and the Site Director for Summer Away at Harvey Mudd, said of this problem: “This is a central problem for the class; it requires a proof of impossibility, thinking about divisibility issues, and the solution goes on to be very useful in a problem in graph theory that students tackle later on.”

Check out Adib’s work below.

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The students in Solving Big Problems take time to explore this problem, building up the pieces to solve it. This summer, after the students had completed the problem, they got to see a faculty member and a counselor tackle it together, talking through their thought process so students could see how people with lots of advanced math experience approached the very same problem they already knew well.

Check out more student work (and more about what BEAM has been up to this year) in our 2019 Annual Report.

BEAM College Prep Week

BEAM alumni, (clockwise from top left) Ana, Ariel, John, Crisleidy, and Quentin, speak with BEAM 11th and 12th graders about college admissions and college life.

BEAM alumni, (clockwise from top left) Ana, Ariel, John, Crisleidy, and Quentin, speak with BEAM 11th and 12th graders about college admissions and college life.

During College Prep Week, BEAM alumni offered great advice for the gathered 11th and 12th graders about getting into and through college.

Here’s just a little bit of what they said:

Question — What’s one piece of advice you wish you’d had while you were applying to colleges?

  • Get someone who doesn’t know you to read your essay; it can be uncomfortable but it made my essay better.

  • Find a set time and dedicate it to college stuff (like Thursday office hours at BEAM).

  • The library is your best friend. Use it during free periods, after school, whenever you can.

  • Don’t apply to 18 colleges.

In a week of workshops, BEAM students learned about college admissions, financial aid, choosing the right college, standardized tests, and more. Twelfth graders worked on college essays.

Oh, and there was Jeopardy!

Vanessa said about College Prep Week, “I learned about FAFSA, CSS, TAP, QuestBridge, and how BEAM will help me. I feel more prepared to approach the college process."

Recruiting and Selecting BEAM Students: A First Hand Account

Today, we have a guest blog post from long-time BEAM volunteer, Maury Bohan, who is also a retired 6th grade math teacher. Maury accompanied our staff on an admissions school visit back in March and had the following to say about her experience. While BEAM’s admissions season is over (it runs January-March), we’re always thinking ahead to next year, when we can’t wait to meet 6th graders in Los Angeles and New York City who are applying to our entry level program, BEAM Discovery.

Early in March, on a Wednesday morning, I had the pleasure of joining Lynn Cartwright-Punnett at PS 171/Patrick Henry Preparatory School in East Harlem, which has been a BEAM partner school since 2014. I had wanted to participate in a visit to one of BEAM’s partner schools, and Lynn felt it would be beneficial if we used the visit as a chance to share details with our many volunteers, instructors, and supporters.

A 7th grader works on the Admissions Challenge.

A 7th grader works on the Admissions Challenge.

We began the morning with eight 7th graders, two of whom attended last summer’s BEAM Discovery program. The goal was to check in on what the BEAM Discovery alumni were doing and also to identify any 7th graders who we had not met in 6th grade, who would benefit from joining our program, AND who could succeed despite not having attended last summer. Lynn shared the goals of the BEAM Pathway Program, which include “…going farther than you expect, learning more, and exploring new ideas.” In addition to the potentially overwhelming information that the students would be with BEAM all the way through college, she also tempted the young students with details about dorm life, field trips, and good, hard brain work. After responding to questions, Lynn handed out the Admissions Challenge — seven questions to be completed in 40 minutes, and explained that the goal is not to do all of it perfectly, but rather “to figure out what you can figure out.”

7th graders at another BEAM partner school, KIPP Infinity, tell their 6th grade colleagues about BEAM Discovery.

7th graders at another BEAM partner school, KIPP Infinity, tell their 6th grade colleagues about BEAM Discovery.

After the 7th graders left the room, we were joined by a new crew of about fifteen 6th graders. They were physically so much younger than the 7th graders — clearly still children — and obviously nervous. Lynn immediately put them at ease, asking what they already knew about BEAM Discovery — basically that it is a summer math program five days per week for five weeks. She shared the daily schedule, and the goal to challenge brains, to grow and do more than students could do before, and to be a member of a math-loving community. Again there was talk of preparation for college, in terms of how choosing courses and activities during the summer is a way to start building autonomy so as to eventually be ready for decision making in college. Lynn then handed out the Admissions Challenge, and reminded students that “The goal isn’t perfect work; it’s interesting work.

Besides the results of the students’ work on the Admissions Challenge, there are a few other ways for them to demonstrate their potential as a BEAM student. They are all asked to share how they felt about the challenge and what they liked about it. They are also given some extra problems to do at home and send back, which can show readiness and interest, and allow students to perform while not under time pressure.

There is a third way that a student might earn some unofficial points toward gaining a slot in a BEAM program, and it was demonstrated after the sixth graders left us. Lynn earlier had an opportunity to quickly review the 7th graders’ responses to their Admissions Challenge and had asked the school contact person to bring one student back to our classroom for an interview. This would allow Lynn to ascertain whether the student is as ready for this summer’s 7th grade program as all the incoming alumni of last summer’s Discovery Program will be. I enjoyed listening first as the two of them chatted about school and math, and the student’s personal life. She shared that her life outside of school is mostly homework, supporting a younger sister’s homework, and church. She has never been outside of New York City, and wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. What is she most concerned about in regards to BEAM’s summer program? That it is a sleep away program!

After chatting, Lynn and the student got down to work, discussing some great math problems. How encouraging it was for me to observe their back and forth, and the young lady’s willingness to draw conclusions, and then re-evaluate them given Lynn’s prodding. The student’s patience, persistence, and flexible thinking seemed to me qualities that will make her succeed, and that BEAM would benefit from. And this is where those unofficial points toward entrance come in to play. “Slant points” are like an additional note, one which this girl definitely received, that says if there is a tie for a slot at BEAM, this student has that “something extra” that makes her the preferred candidate.

As a retired teacher, I can’t imagine many more encouraging mornings than watching all of these 6th and 7th graders voluntarily meeting with a stranger to demonstrate their interest and talent in mathematical thinking. I can’t wait to hear which students are joining us this summer, and I look forward to seeing them grow and thrive through high school.

Maury works with Alberto and Rebecca on trivia questions at BEAM’s annual night of puzzles and trivia.

Maury works with Alberto and Rebecca on trivia questions at BEAM’s annual night of puzzles and trivia.

BEAM Alums Do Amazing Things: Summer Vacation Edition

BEAM starts with the summer programs we run (BEAM 6 and BEAM 7), but then encourages our students to apply to summer programs, internships, and jobs that keep their academic growth going. Here's what a few of our alums did during summer 2018!

Malachi, Mathworks Honors Summer Math Camp at Texas State University

Malachi holds the BEAM alumni record for most consecutive summers spent at a math program: six! After a summer at BEAM 7 (2013), Malachi attended MathPath (2014) and then the Mathworks Honors Summer Math Camp at Texas State University (2015-2017), which he returned to as a staff member this summer (2018).

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Meet Malachi

Malachi is a first-year student at SUNY Binghmaton where he plans to major in actuarial science.

What did you do this summer?

I went back to Mathworks for a very different experience. Some of it was the same, like the camp environment. Some friends I remembered (but there are fewer of us in my grade each year). Above all, I had more responsibility. I had to grade papers, reading student proofs. We had to focus on where the information was both efficient and sufficient. We tried to follow a script, but each counselor has a different level for what constitutes a good enough proof. We were constantly trying to make sure we weren’t too lenient or too tough. With three years of writing proofs, you know what a proof is. So I told my students to focus on clarity and correctness. You can be clear about the wrong point. Or you can be correct but no one can understand your work. But if you meet those two requirements, the proof is right. That’s how I graded.

A big part of my job was being welcoming to the young kids. I worked to bring my social skills to the job because the students were so academic and I just wanted to make them feel comfortable, feel happy to be there. It was nice to be responsible for the well-being of other people. I chose to be a first year counselor because I knew I wanted to be welcoming to new students. I supported a mix of 9th-11th graders, but spent the most time with 9th graders. I even had one student who had finished 8th grade but had already finished Calculus!

In my spare time, I also took an optional course, where topology was the course being offered by a professor on campus for the benefit of the counselors. So I was studying and working.

Vielka, Malachi, and Crisleidy at their graduation from Brooklyn Tech. Vielka and Crisleidy spent summer 2018 working for BEAM as Junior Counselors at BEAM 6 NYC.

Vielka, Malachi, and Crisleidy at their graduation from Brooklyn Tech. Vielka and Crisleidy spent summer 2018 working for BEAM as Junior Counselors at BEAM 6 NYC.

What was the application process like? Did BEAM prepare you in any way for that application?

Technically you have to apply. But I knew they had wanted me to return; they liked the skills I brought and the diversity (both ethnic and geographic). They didn’t ask me to complete the entire application process.

What was the highlight of your summer experience?

Being able to have the experience of building trust with new students, piquing their interest. I love having an impact on others. Some kids, I know I made their experience better. I did that. I’d already done the trips, the program itself, so the main focus for me was being the favorite counselor for some students.

What was something unexpected about your summer experience?

It was exactly what I expected. There were times when the workload was overwhelming, especially when my topology class had to be balanced against the grading. So I learned to balance my work (which I have always done) but also the work of everyone else in my group. But I knew that responsibility was coming.

Why did you keep going back to Mathworks?

This year, the money was a big factor! But at this point, it’s comfortable. It’s an environment I want to be in. Folks have similar interests. I know I will meet people who I like to be around, I like to converse with. I want to have that impact that other counselors had on me in the past. Each year, there are people I want to see again, math I can learn that I’m interested in, research that I want to get to do. It’s a family bond, a family atmosphere, a bond I have. I love that BEAM is 3 weeks, but Texas is 6 weeks. Just imagine how much stronger the bond is!

Malachi attends MathPath, 2014.

Malachi attends MathPath, 2014.

Zeñia and Teo, Cooper Union Summer STEM

Both Zeñia and Teo were accepted into this very competitive program! We asked them each about their experiences. 

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Meet Zeñia!

Zeñia is a 12th grader at St. Mark's School, a boarding school in Massachusetts. 

What did you do this summer?

I took a racecar engineering design class. The class split up and each group focused on a different component of a racecar. My group worked on the “impact attenuator”, which is something that purposely deforms to protect the driver in case of impact. We wanted to find the best shape and material for an “ideal crash.” We wanted to work with carbon fiber rather than aluminum which is used currently. Our job was to figure out what the ideal attenuator would be for a racecar crash. We used a testing rig (put weights and crush it) to test out prototypes. We built a lot of prototypes. We chose which was best and modified it accordingly. 

The program lasted for 6 weeks. We did presentations every week. Presenting was a great skill I can take back for my own future. 

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What was the application process like?  Did BEAM prepare you in any way for that application?

They had you write an essay about why you were interested in STEM and spending the summer doing something in this field. Sarah at BEAM helped edit my essay. 

Oscilloscope graph.

Oscilloscope graph.

What was the highlight of your summer experience?

Understanding the oscilloscope because no one on our team knew what it was. We were able to understand it, graph data and analyze the date. After this we made the prototype and then “crushed it.” [See below for what that looked like!]

What was something unexpected about your summer experience?

I’ve been used to going to summer programs that are sleepaway. The idea of commuting to a college campus and it took me some time to adjust. I had to go home at the end of the day. I expected to get tired and annoyed, but I didn’t, which was a great realization. 

Would you recommend this summer experience to other students?  Why or why not?

Yes! Definitely, I would. I knew I was interested in mechanical engineering and knew this experience would be great for me. Even if you don’t know what specifically in engineering you want to do, there were a lot of programs to choose from. The team and faculty were very supportive and helpful. You didn’t need prior knowledge; everyone was willing to teach you. This was helpful in helping me figure out what type of engineering I wanted to do. 
 

Crushing the prototype!

Crushing the prototype!

Meet Teo!

Teo is a 12th grader at Millennium High School. 

What did you do this summer?

I played Fortnite—just kidding. I did a STEM program at Cooper Union for 6 weeks. I chose the "STEM to STEAM Rube Goldberg Project" because I saw a video about this that BEAM sent out to us when they were telling us about the opportunity at Cooper Union. We were put it to teams where we were tasked with creating a kinetic sculpture which is basically like a “moving art piece” where we had to answer the question “What Does NYC Mean to You?” We created a marble machine that went through all parts of NYC. There were electronic parts. We built parts and 3-D printed components. It was a combination of constructing and engineering. 

What was the application process like?  Did BEAM prepare you in any way for that application?

They required transcript and an essay asking why I wanted to be a part of the program. BEAM helped because I wrote the essay the day before it was due and Dan really stuck by me through the night and helped me revise my essay. Disclaimer: don’t do this. 

Teo shows his kinetic sculpture to other BEAM 11th and 12th graders during a college tour of Cooper Union.

Teo shows his kinetic sculpture to other BEAM 11th and 12th graders during a college tour of Cooper Union.

What was the highlight of your summer experience?

Getting engineering experience. I learned to use laser cutting machine, how to 3-D print, and how to do circuitry work. I also used hand saws and electric saws to cut through tough material. I used a lot of tools. 

Would you recommend this summer experience to other students?  Why or why not?

If you’re in to engineering, yes! It is a good experience. Or if you want to find out more about engineering it might be a good way to determine if it’s for you before you go to college. Now I really want to study engineering because it was fun. 

Adrianne, Black Girls Code

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Meet Adrianne!

Adrianne is an 11th grader at NEST+m.

What did you do this summer?

I spent the summer with Black Girls Code. Over the course of the program, we first learned how to build websites, and then apps.

What was the application process like? Did BEAM prepare you in any way for that application?

BEAM introduced me and my mom to the program and then my mom signed me up. There wasn’t much of an application!

What was the highlight of your summer experience?

Presenting the final project: my app. What I made was a dog app, and it basically helps you find your lost dog. I had to make a map which is very hard. Very hard!

What was something unexpected about your summer experience?

The sense of community that I built. I didn’t expect to be as close within a 2-week period as I was. It was really intense. We also got to go on some trips too.

Would you recommend this summer experience to other students? Why or why not?

Yes, definitely. Not only does it allow you to know more about computer science in general, but also we went on trips to different companies and you hear about the different companies. Above all, it was a program with like-minded people who want to achieve the same goal as you.

Maria, Lenox Hill Hospital Radiology Internship

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Meet Maria!

Maria is a 12th grader at St. Jean Baptiste High School in the Bronx. 

What did you do this summer?

I did an internship with Lenox Hill Hospital (where Beyonce gave birth to her first child). I was assigned to the pathology dept (where they do lab work, including bloodwork, surgical specimens, and more). My mentor made sure that I got to rotate through all the different part of Pathology: surgical path, chem path, hematology path for examples. I was introduced to all lab leaders in each department. Also, on Wednesdays, we had enrichment days where everyone in the program got together with the director of the program and we would meet different people in the hospital or do surgical tours. We got to see the inside of an OR (operating room) and I saw two operations from next to the operating table. I saw a mastectomy and breast reconstructions and also an above-the-knee amputation. Through glass, I saw an “angiogram”—to check blood flow in the brain. 

In surgical pathology I got to see different specimens that came in. For instance I saw breast tissue that was taken from a mastectomy. I also saw a fetal autopsy on a 15 weeks fetus. 

Infectious diseases under the microscope.

Infectious diseases under the microscope.

In hematology I looked at slides under a microscope. I saw malaria-infected cells and cancer-infected cells. I also saw how they prepped the slides. 

I got to meet the doctor who the movie Brain on Fire is about. I was starstruck. Dr. Najjar is a very famous doctor who made a groundbreaking discovery in medicine. 

What was the application process like?  Did BEAM prepare you in any way for that application?

There is a partnership through my high school; my guidance counselor approached me and told me to apply. I had to complete an application, write an essay, and go through an interview. I also had to provide info about my grades. I was the first interviewee and I was very scared. They asked me about stuff I wrote in my essay, such as how the program would benefit me and my interests in medicine. In the interview, I talked about BEAM as a program that has guided me. 

Yes, BEAM helped me throughout! I had Sylvia read my essay a bunch of times. 

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What was the highlight of your summer experience?

Networking. What 17-year-old can say they have connections with doctors at a hospital? It’s also something substantial to put in my college application. 

Watching the mastectomy was another highlight. It was a 9-hour surgery, I was there only for four and it was exhausting for me. The surgeon was also teaching his students. On top of leading the surgery, he was also teaching, which is important and definitely something that I want in my future when I go to med school. 

Would you recommend this summer experience to other students?  Why or why not?

I would say yes, but only if you’re considering a profession in health and medicine because it definitely makes or breaks it. You either love it or hate it. You see the hospital as it is—it’s not like watching Grey’s Anatomy

Isabella, NYU Tandon School of Engineering's ARISE

Isabella presents her passive dynamic walker at the end of the summer.

Isabella presents her passive dynamic walker at the end of the summer.

Meet Isabella!

Isabella is an 11th grade at Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics.

What did you do this summer?

I was in a research placement at a mechanical engineering lab at NYU’s polytechnic campus in downtown Brooklyn.

What was the application process like? Did BEAM prepare you in any way for that application?

It was all kind of a blur because I was doing it way back in January. I didn’t expect to get in, because I really struggle with writing. The essay process was rough and it took a lot of my time. Each week, at BEAM Next Saturday classes, we took some time to break down what was required to apply and how to meet necessary deadlines. That really helped me get the application done and get in.

What was the highlight of your summer experience?

Being able to understand complex computer languages that I haven’t before. We learned to use Arduino and Matlab.

What was something unexpected about your summer experience?

It was kind of hard. But other than that I felt prepared for everything.

Would you recommend this summer experience to other students? Why or why not?

Yes, I would recommend it. But I don’t know if their experience would be the same as mine, because there’s different labs in different buildings. You get what feels like a real college experience.

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Jennora, Met PALS Internship

Meet Jennora!

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Jennora is an 11th grader at Bard High School Early College. 

What did you do this summer?

The Met PALS program (Metropolitan Hospital Center Preparation for Achievement in the Life Sciences) is prep for people who want to go into medical field. You get a chance to figure out what exactly you want to do in the medical field. You’re walking in the hospital, with your coat on, watching what’s going on and talking to the staff. There’s also lectures about how you become different types of medical professional. 

What was the application process like?  Did BEAM prepare you in any way for that application?

It was not that rigorous! I was volunteering at the hospital already and the coordinator told me that Met PALS would be a chance to do more intellectual tasks. So then I filled out some forms and there was an interview, but I didn’t have to write an essay. 

BEAM has helped me over the years get into programs: how to write essays, answer questions, do paperwork. Now I can apply for things by myself and I can be independent and I know what to do, but if I do need BEAM for an application or a recommendation letter, I know you’re always there. That support is so helpful. 

In the past, BEAM has helped Jennora with her successful applications to GOALS for Girls and Center for Excellence in Youth Education (CEYE) High School Summer Program, where she studied zebrafish toxicology. 

What was the highlight of your summer experience?

So much! Surgery was amazing; I would have never have expected being able to watch a real surgery in the Operating Room. But there was so much more to the program. I loved the overall experience, being by yourself, walking around the hospital, being independent, being surrounded by adults who know what they’re doing. It felt mature and independence. I grew so much as a person.

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What was something unexpected about your summer experience?

Surgery! Didn’t know I would see that. I got to change into scrubs and be on the inside. In some departments, you would talk to patients and even hear private information. It was crazy to see a biopsy in front of my eyes!

Would you recommend this summer experience to other students?  Why or why not?

Of course!! There were only 10 of us in the cohort. Lots of freedom. Plus, I’m curious about the medical filed and I really got an inside look. There are so few opportunities at my age to understand so many things about the medical field. I’d never heard of residency before doing this! I saw radiology, PT, OT, internal medicine, NICU. I explored the whole hospital. 

Porter, Center for Talented Youth

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Meet Porter!

Porter is a 9th grader at the High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology in Brooklyn.

What did you do this summer?

I played a lot of video games... I also went to the Center for Talented Youth (CTY) and took an engineering class, which was basically an intro to the engineering process.

What was the application process like? Did BEAM prepare you in any way for that application?

The application process was not really so stressful. You had to take a test, and then find out if you qualified. Then, you got to select what classes you wanted and which location. BEAM facilitated the test and helped me study for it.

What was the highlight of your summer experience?

Meeting other people interested in the same things as me.

Would you recommend this summer experience to other students? Why or why not?

Yes. It was really fun. It was also really interesting and instructive.


Aisha's Off to Northwestern!

BEAM 7 back in 2013; Aisha is standing in a pink t-shirt about one-third of the way from the left. 

BEAM 7 back in 2013; Aisha is standing in a pink t-shirt about one-third of the way from the left. 

Five years ago, 39 seventh graders had just completed their first summer at BEAM. For some of them, it was their first time out of the city, or their first time away from their family. All of them were going to spend three weeks now living away from home and learning advanced math.

This summer, those same students graduated high school (including three with an Associate's Degree) and are just now starting college. Meanwhile, 370 students completed their own first summer at BEAM. It’s a time for looking backward and looking forward, so we asked one of our rising college goers, Aisha, to reflect on the last five years, from the start of BEAM 7 to her journey to college this fall. 

Aisha and Shikya learn to solder, July 2013

Aisha and Shikya learn to solder, July 2013

In spring 2013, Aisha decided to attend BEAM because she really loved math, especially geometry puzzles. The program also promised a chance to get away from home, make new friends, and have fun. She figured she would learn some new skills, but other than that she wasn’t sure what to expect. 

At BEAM, Aisha took courses on Proofs, Circuit Design, Statistics, and Math Team Strategies. Her instructor in Math Team Strategies described her as “intent on understanding and solving problems.” She loved the math, which she found to be different and more challenging than what she saw in school, but it wasn’t just the math that altered her trajectory. When asked how she had changed during the summer, she wrote, “I have changed because now I don’t give up. I used to give up a lot, so for me to keep going even when I get frustrated is different.” 

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We asked all our students what BEAM could do to support them after that summer, and Aisha responded: “I would like to stay in contact because I think I might need help and this camp helped me understand a lot of things I was confused with.”

Aisha, June 2018

Aisha, June 2018

And stay in touch she did! In 8th grade, we helped her pick a high school, Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics. In 9th grade, long before BEAM offered such comprehensive support, we encouraged her to apply to a mentoring program, Minds Matter, where she spent her summers and Saturdays for the next three years. In 11th and 12th grade, when her high school guidance counselor didn’t have the time to give her personal attention, Aisha turned to BEAM to be her college adviser. After being admitted to Northwestern University on a full scholarship, she turned to BEAM again to evaluate her financial aid package and get advice on applying for a summer bridge program to work on her writing skills. This summer, she will be working at BEAM 6 as a Junior Counselor, teaching and inspiring the next generation of BEAM students. 

We asked Aisha to look back and reflect. Here’s what she wrote:

From the summer of 2013 until now, BEAM has been a constant factor in my life. The staff at BEAM have supported me and been there for me during my achievements as well as during my failures. They have aided me in so many ways, enriching my ability and my personality. They helped me find a high school that best fit me and they presented me with opportunities for next steps, preparing me for college and the professional world. 

Most importantly, throughout the entire college process, BEAM has helped me in more ways than I could have imagined. The college process was one of the most difficult and draining times during my high school experience. However, what made it better was BEAM. When I had to change my college list at the last minute or when I was struggling to write essays, or when I cried because things were too expensive and I couldn’t handle the stress, BEAM helped me any way they could. I particularly appreciate the last-minute grant from BEAM’s Last Dollar Fund to cover $132 in SAT score reports that I needed to send in December 2017, just days before my Common Application was due. 

I am grateful to be part of BEAM. I know without them I could never have reached the position I am in today. BEAM has done so much for me. I love being part of this BEAM family. 

Now we’d like to turn around and share our appreciation with the entire community of BEAM supporters. Over the five years that Aisha has been part of BEAM, we have grown both the number of students we serve and the services we offer. When Aisha started BEAM, we didn’t even have an office; our two staff members each worked from home. Today, we have offices on both coasts. At the time, we had little high school support and no college support. Today, we not only offer college admissions advising to a core group of students, we are also adding advising through college to ensure that students like Aisha will graduate with STEM degrees. Aisha will get support from BEAM on how to choose classes, how to build relationships with professors, how to declare a major, and how to land an internship, along with regular reminders for all the logistics like filing her FAFSA. Already, at our 12th grade graduation party, Aisha sat down to discuss how an undecided student selects courses for her first semester. We feel confident that in four short years, we will be announcing her college graduation and exciting next plans. 

Aisha (right) discusses college plans with Ayinde, BEAM's College Support Coordinator.

Aisha (right) discusses college plans with Ayinde, BEAM's College Support Coordinator.

Thank you to each and every BEAM donor, summer staff members, family member, peer, and cheerleader. Your support of BEAM allows us to turn around and support Aisha in ways both large and small. Aisha says she wouldn’t be here without BEAM; BEAM would not be here without your support. 

PS: Where are the other BEAM students headed?

Aisha in Spain, during her 2017 summer program where she interned at a maker space. 

Aisha in Spain, during her 2017 summer program where she interned at a maker space. 

Aisha (center) rehearses for the BEAM 7 talent show back in 2013. 

Aisha (center) rehearses for the BEAM 7 talent show back in 2013. 

Zanahya, a rising 7th grader, learns to solder at BEAM 6 in 2018. Aisha, who learned to solder at BEAM 7 five years earlier was the teaching assistant for this course. 

Zanahya, a rising 7th grader, learns to solder at BEAM 6 in 2018. Aisha, who learned to solder at BEAM 7 five years earlier was the teaching assistant for this course. 

BEAM students announce their college plans at College Decision Day at the Apollo Theater, May 2018.  Back row: Elijah (Howard), Henry (UMass Amherst), Tanasia (Rochester), Ariel (Brandeis)  Front row: Vielka (SUNY ESF), Aishat (Yale), Will (Haverford), Aisha (Northwestern), Malachi (SUNY Binghamton)

BEAM students announce their college plans at College Decision Day at the Apollo Theater, May 2018.

Back row: Elijah (Howard), Henry (UMass Amherst), Tanasia (Rochester), Ariel (Brandeis)

Front row: Vielka (SUNY ESF), Aishat (Yale), Will (Haverford), Aisha (Northwestern), Malachi (SUNY Binghamton)

Aisha graduates from Manhattan Center School for Science and Mathematics, June 2018. 

Aisha graduates from Manhattan Center School for Science and Mathematics, June 2018. 

Aisha, front, second from left, sits on a panel of BEAM staff and alums providing college application advice to rising 11th and 12th graders, August 2018. 

Aisha, front, second from left, sits on a panel of BEAM staff and alums providing college application advice to rising 11th and 12th graders, August 2018. 

Wow! Gabriel can cube!!

About 50 weeks ago, Gabriel (center, below) showed up at BEAM 7 Union College and met Yi Ling (right, below). Yi Ling loves to cube (solve a Rubik's cube) so she taught Gabriel (and others) on the first night.Last summer, Yi Ling actually performed in the Talent Show: solving two cubes as fast as she could

Gabriel learns to cube

The picture above shows Gabriel and his first cubing accomplishment: solving one face of the cube. All summer, Gabriel practiced in spare moments, including almost every night during evening free time. He went back home and kept it up. Eventually, he got good enough that he signed up for the New York City Spring 2018 Cubing Competition through the World Cubing Association. His average cubing time was 18.91 seconds, and his single best time was 14.25 seconds!

Gabriel even posted a video of that record time. Check it out:

Amazing, Gabriel. We just think it's so cool that you picked this skill and did the work to become an expert!

Congratulations, 8th graders!

This month, BEAM students found out where they will be attending high school.  We are pleased to announce that, so far, 40% of our 8th graders have been admitted to highly selective high schools and 62% have been admitted to selective high schools.  At this point, 89% 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 students were admitted to: 

  • Bard High School Early College (15)
  • Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics (15)
  • Stuyvesant (3)
  • Bronx Science (3)
  • Brooklyn Tech (3)
  • The Beacon School (3)
  • Collegiate Institute For Math And Science (3)
  • Brooklyn Latin (2)
  • NEST+m (2)
  • Leon M. Goldstein High School for the Sciences (2)
  • Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) (2)
  • Loomis Chaffee
  • Poly Prep
  • High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College
  • High School of American Studies at Lehman College
  • Manhattan/Hunter Science High School
  • Midwood High School
  • Millennium High School
  • Millennium Brooklyn High School
  • Manhattan Village Academy
  • Medgar Evers College Preparatory School
  • University Heights High School
  • Academy for Software Engineering 
  • Bronx Academy for Software Engineering 
  • Hostos-Lincoln Academy of Science
  • Urban Assembly Maker Academy

These 82 8th graders join 300+ BEAM students already in high school. We're so proud of you all!

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The Joy of Math

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Everything was just amazing... I learned to love math’s beauty.
— Andy, 12th grade, Bronx Science, speaking about his experience at BEAM in summer 2013

Think back to 7th grade: what did you know or think about math? Each year, we ask graduates of BEAM 7 to talk about their three weeks with us on a college campus, doing math. One of the most interesting questions is: "What is math to you?"  Here are a few of our favorite answers from over the years!

"Math is thinking and trying your best. Math is everything."  -- Aishat, now in 12th grade, has been admitted to Yale, Pomona, Wesleyan, Swarthmore, Vassar, Macalaster, UVA, and SUNY Geneseo, and has decided to attend Yale. She has also been awarded the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke College Scholarship. 

"Math is thinking and trying your best. Math is everything."

-- Aishat, now in 12th grade, has been admitted to Yale, Pomona, Wesleyan, Swarthmore, Vassar, Macalaster, UVA, and SUNY Geneseo, and has decided to attend Yale. She has also been awarded the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke College Scholarship. 

"It is not just numbers and a bunch of variables; it's something that actually is fun and exciting."  -- Aleks, now in 12th grade, has been admitted to Syracuse, St. John's Penn State, and four campuses of the City University of New York (CUNY). She will be attending St. John's. 

"It is not just numbers and a bunch of variables; it's something that actually is fun and exciting."

-- Aleks, now in 12th grade, has been admitted to Syracuse, St. John's Penn State, and four campuses of the City University of New York (CUNY). She will be attending St. John's. 

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" A way I can express my thoughts and talk with and engage in fun arguments with my friends."  -- Alex, now in 9th grade, attends the Cate School on full scholarship. 

" A way I can express my thoughts and talk with and engage in fun arguments with my friends."

-- Alex, now in 9th grade, attends the Cate School on full scholarship. 

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"Math is the ability to understand the world around you using numbers and ideas."  -- Camila, now in 8th grade, has been admitted to Bard High School Early College. She is also a Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholar. 

"Math is the ability to understand the world around you using numbers and ideas."

-- Camila, now in 8th grade, has been admitted to Bard High School Early College. She is also a Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholar. 

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"My favorite subject. The structure of building and thinking."  -- Edgar, now in 8th grade, has been admitted to both Brooklyn Latin and Bard High School Early College. 

"My favorite subject. The structure of building and thinking."

-- Edgar, now in 8th grade, has been admitted to both Brooklyn Latin and Bard High School Early College. 

"The best subject in the world and the most interesting one."  -- Eli, now in 12th grade, has been admitted to Howard, SUNY Binghamton, UConn, University of Kentucky, Syracuse, College of Staten Island, and Lehman College, and will be attending Howard, planning to study engineering. They were also a Questbridge College Prep Scholar. They have worked as a Junior Counselor at BEAM 6, an Algebra TA for our 8th grade class, and a math team coach for two middle school teams. 

"The best subject in the world and the most interesting one."

-- Eli, now in 12th grade, has been admitted to Howard, SUNY Binghamton, UConn, University of Kentucky, Syracuse, College of Staten Island, and Lehman College, and will be attending Howard, planning to study engineering. They were also a Questbridge College Prep Scholar. They have worked as a Junior Counselor at BEAM 6, an Algebra TA for our 8th grade class, and a math team coach for two middle school teams. 

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"Math is life. Math is a book that never ends and you want to keep learning about."  -- Pamela, now in 12th grade, will be attending Smith College in the fall. She was also a Questbridge National College Match Finalist. 

"Math is life. Math is a book that never ends and you want to keep learning about."

-- Pamela, now in 12th grade, will be attending Smith College in the fall. She was also a Questbridge National College Match Finalist. 

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"Math is something that you can learn that will open up doors to new opportunities."  -- Zeñia, now in 11th grade, attends St. Mark's School. After three summers at the Center for Talented Youth (CTY), this summer she will attend Cooper Union's Summer STEM Program on a full scholarship. 

"Math is something that you can learn that will open up doors to new opportunities."

-- Zeñia, now in 11th grade, attends St. Mark's School. After three summers at the Center for Talented Youth (CTY), this summer she will attend Cooper Union's Summer STEM Program on a full scholarship. 

Finally, we want to take a second to call out Lismary's quote (below). Lismary, who goes by "L" after her favorite anime character, is currently in 8th grade. She attended BEAM 6 and then BEAM 7, where she fell in love in math. Next year, she will attend Bard High School Early College. She currently aims to get a PhD in number theory and to go on to become a professor of mathematics. 

Here's what she had to say:

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"Math is an amazing collection of curiosity, conjectures, and theorems. It's the language of the universe. It's something that brings us together. I want to study math because I know that I will always have questions about the universe. I want to be part of a team of mathematicians who answer those questions."

"Math is an amazing collection of curiosity, conjectures, and theorems. It's the language of the universe. It's something that brings us together. I want to study math because I know that I will always have questions about the universe. I want to be part of a team of mathematicians who answer those questions."

What's the longest you've worked on a math problem??

Each summer, we ask students at the beginning and end of BEAM 6 and BEAM 7, “What’s the longest you’ve worked on a math problem?” This year, the median answer for our BEAM 7 students went from one hour to three hours and, as you’ll see, many students answered in days. The longest answer this year was “>30 days”! Students were then asked what it was like to work on a problem for that long, and you’ll see them grappling with the frustration and exhilaration that come with working hard on truly challenging problems. BEAM’s summer programs are designed to build both resilience and joy in mathematics, building a foundation that will carry students far. We’re so proud to see our middle school students become mathematicians before our very eyes each summer. 

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Angel is an 8th grader at MS 343, the Academy of Applied Mathematics and Technology.

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Yeramis is an 8th grader at Girls Prep Lower East Side Middle School.  She also attended BEAM 6 last summer.

Anthony is an 8th grader at MS 223, The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology. He also attended BEAM 6 last summer.

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Camila is an 8th grader at MS 223, The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology. She also attended BEAM 6 last summer.

Maryam is an 8th grader at MS 343, the Academy of Applied Mathematics and Technology.  She also attended BEAM 6 last summer.

Storm is an 8th grader at the South Bronx Early College Academy.  He also attended BEAM 6 last summer.

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Thays is an 8th grader at Ichan Charter School 2.  She also attended BEAM 6 last summer.

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Lismary is an 8th grader at Columbia Secondary School.  She also attended BEAM 6 last summer.