alumni

Recap: BEAM Goes to Fall Yale Splash 2018!

Recently, nearly 70 BEAM alumni had the opportunity to travel to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut for one of our favorite yearly events: Yale Splash. This program offers students from 7-12 grade to enroll in courses that are taught by undergraduate volunteers in classrooms on campus. The students register online and get to pick their own classes and organize their own schedules. Yale Splash allows students to choose from an array of intriguing topics within many different fields. This year some of the students favorite courses included “Viking Age Iceland,” “The Science Behind Cookies,” and “Sharks: Nature’s Most Misunderstood.”

In my favorite and most interesting class, “How The Brain Works”, I learned that you actually see upside down but it’s your brain that flips your vision right side up.
— Ethan Chase, 8th Grade

After classes were dismissed, BEAM students reconvened at the library to meet with their assigned groups for tours. We had three undergraduate volunteers come to help give students a brief tour of campus and lead them to their assigned dining halls. A lot of our older students were especially excited to see a friendly face because Aishat Adekunle, a freshman at Yale and also a BEAM 7 alum from 2013 was one of our tour guides that evening! Although the weather was very choppy, students got see the ins and outs of a college campus. We explored the downtown area, ventured into the undergraduate commons and even got a sneak peek into student housing.

From this trip overall I learned that college is a lot of work, but now I’m ahead of the game. I’m way more informed about college life than most kids my age so I’m ready for it when it comes in 4 or 5 years thanks to BEAM.
— Amber Sosa, 8th Grade

After the tours, students were brought to the Yale dining halls for dinner. Fitting to BEAM, one of the dining halls we ate at is named after famous mathematician Grace Hopper. Students got to enjoy various foods and share with each other about their classes and highlights of the day. Afterwards, we all rallied back to buses for our journey back to New York City.

The pictures above feature many of our students throughout the day. The first picture is of 8th graders Yilin and Faoziah enjoying their 2 hour bus ride. Next, 11th grader Brianna and 8th grader Jeremiah show off their Yale Splash t-shirts. More 8th graders are shown hanging out; Ethan, Jeremiah and Amber are enjoying a quick break in the library’s lounge. Although it was quite rainy, Aishat got to reunite with some of her old friends from BEAM, Teo, Silvio, Rashik, Maria, Amanda and Elisa, before taking the students on a tour. Lastly, we have the same group eating at the John Edwards dining hall with Betty, one of the day time staff for the trip.

BEAM's Post-Summer Newsletter is Here!

Today, BEAM's quarterly newsletter arrived in the inboxes of all our subscribers! The newsletter featured:

  • Information about the first summer of BEAM Los Angeles

  • An invite to join BEAM for an upcoming fast-paced night of slightly-mathy trivia, 10/29 in NYC and 11/13 in LA!

  • What our alumni did this summer

  • "What We're Reading"

Missed it? You can read the newsletter now.

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Make sure you don't miss the next one! Sign up for our mailing list.

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.


Welcome to BEAM’s College Prep Panel on Applying to College!

Six rising, current, and former college students from universities across the country joined BEAM's College Prep Week this August to share their experiences applying for college with BEAM rising 11th and 12th graders, currently navigating this process themselves.

Aisha BEAM '13 (Northwestern University) and Edson BEAM '13 (University of Southern California) will both start college this school year. They just recently navigated the confusing world of college applications themselves. Abdel BEAM '12 (NYU Polytechnic), Ana BEAM '12 (Barnard College), and John BEAM '12 (Fordham University) are all rising sophomores and can look back at their college application process with a whole year of college experience under their belt. Finally, Sylvia, BEAM staff and a graduate of SUNY Albany, rounds out our panel with an inside perspective on the SUNY system and the wisdom of several years of work experience.

The panel had a lot to say about their college application process, and answered many important questions: the how’s and the what’s, the in’s and the out’s, the up’s and the downs of getting into college. Our panelists talked about topics like choosing schools and time management skills. If you are applying for college or just want some advice, here are some of the questions and answers of our College Prep Panel!

From left to right: Abdel, Sylvia, Aisha, Edson, John, and Ana address rising 11th and 12th graders during College Prep Week.

From left to right: Abdel, Sylvia, Aisha, Edson, John, and Ana address rising 11th and 12th graders during College Prep Week.

How did you choose which colleges to apply to? What kind of things went into that? 

  • Aisha: I was looking for schools that were well-rounded. And schools that I could switch majors, because I knew I was coming in undecided. And schools that had good financial aid.

  • Abdel: I looked at three things. Money. Location. Major. Location: my parents wanted me to stay close to home. So in the city. In state you get more money, especially since NYU has a HEOP program that covers a lot of costs. In terms of major, engineering.

  • Ana: High school affected a lot. I wanted the opposite of my high school experience [at Brooklyn Tech]. Fewer men. Farther from home.

Can you explain a little bit about the common application? 

Sylvia is a Program Assistant at BEAM and one of her major roles is shepherding the current 12th graders through the college process.

Sylvia is a Program Assistant at BEAM and one of her major roles is shepherding the current 12th graders through the college process.

  • Sylvia: It is like a portal, where you can submit all your applications through this one website.

  • John: So it is very convenient.

In your later years of high school, say 11th and 12 grade, how do you split up your time? 

  • Aisha: It all depends on what your situation is like. For me I kinda figure out how to split up time in November [of twelfth grade]. It all depended on my schedule; if something was due for school I would just get it out of way right then and there because I needed to use all of my time for applications.

  • Sylvia: Something that I prioritized was taking care of myself too. It is important to take care of myself too. Having a planner is important so you can schedule around [taking care of yourself].

  • Ana: Time management is definitely important. That is something that I am still learning to do. It is something that I didn't know how to do in high school so I wasn't taking care of myself. So like keeping a planner I can't stress it enough.

Do you use a paper planner? What do you use? 

  • Sylvia: I had a paper planner that was really helpful for me. Now, at work, I use an app called Evernote.

  • Aisha: I use the reminder app on my phone. Because I procrastinate, I would make a fake deadline that is earlier.

  • Ana: I use a paper planner. I think writing down kinda speaks it into existence. If I don't write it down it's not getting done.

A note from BEAM: rising 11th graders who attend Saturday BEAM Next classes get some swanky planners, donated to us by Passion Planner. We may have extra planners for those not going to Saturday classes and 11th and 12th graders can request those!

How early should you start working on things and what should you focus on? 

  • Abdel: Start asking for recommendation letters. I'd say recommendation letters should be the first on your list to do. Personal statement. Start thinking about what you are going to write the summer before.

  • Sylvia: Just start thinking about your essay in your mind. They have the prompts on common app beforehand. So you can start getting ideas.

  • John: Making a spread sheet about yourself, everything you have done. Also... BEAM does give you a calendar of when things should be done. The earliest we started was January of 11th grade, drafting our essays. That is something you can start on just choosing which days, days you are going to thing about college applications, days you are going to study for SAT.

John starts early! Here he is at BEAM College Prep Week 2016 along with Zereena, also BEAM '12, who attends SUNY Binghamton. They're both working on their essays!

John starts early! Here he is at BEAM College Prep Week 2016 along with Zereena, also BEAM '12, who attends SUNY Binghamton. They're both working on their essays!

Did any of you let average grades discourage you? 

  • Edson: I didn't let it discourage me. Mostly because I am a very optimistic. Even if you are doing good, keep shooting to do better. Because what colleges care about is growth.

  • Aisha: I realized after all the college stuff was done and people started getting acceptances, I realized that grades are important but that isn't all they look at. They aren't just looking for a good grade, they are looking for someone who can bring something extra to their school as a person.

Someone mentioned something about being well-rounded? What if you don't have the time? 

  • Sylvia: There were small clubs that I was part of, and you know being on a club doesn't have to take too much time. So I think it is about finding your own niche, what you can do, what you enjoy and what your school offers.

  • John: Basketball. Cross country. Dancing. You can also list taking care of brothers and sisters at home as an activity.

  • Abdel: Volunteering. Working. It's not just sports.

How do you figure out how many schools to apply to? 

  • Aisha: I applied to too many schools that had a lot of requirements. My case was that 14 of my schools involved writing supplemental essays, sending extra stuff, it was also really expensive.

  • Abdel: There are three types of schools that you can apply too. Safety, reach and target. I would just say balance it out and make sure you are not overdoing it.

  • Sylvia: I think another way to narrow down your list is actually talking to people who went to the school.

What was something that you don't like about your school that you wished you looked at? 

  • Sylvia: How expensive it was.

  • Edson: The diversity of the school. USC is still a great school, but the diversity is kinda unbalanced. I wish I would have looked into it.

  • Ana: I kinda knew what I was getting myself into as far as the student body looked like and even the social life looks like. One thing that I wish I had known was how economically segregated it is.

How did you brainstorm your ideas for your essay? 

  • Aisha: For me, my high school they had for incoming seniors it was mandatory you needed to write two essays about things that you might want to. I didn't want to write about being undecided. But then I heard this song. And it was an awesome song. So I decided to write about being undecided. Because that song was about being undecided. I wrote two sentences and gave it to my teacher and she didn't like it because it was about being undecided. But I liked it so I wrote about that.

  • Edson: My teacher said think of something that is really personal to you. I was like I will write about tacos as a joke. Imagine a donut, a jelly donut, the way to structure your essay is to get down to the jelly. Like why you really want to get an education. So I wrote about how tacos are really personal to me. How such a simple food can be a luxury for people who don't have a lot of money.

Final words of wisdom? 

  • John: I think the thing that helped me the most was, I play a lot of basketball and I met upperclassmen through basketball. Meet people through whatever activities interest you.

  • Aisha: Don't psyche yourself out too much about certain statistics. If you really want to apply for a school then just go for it. For my school, I didn't look at the acceptance rate, and if I had I wouldn't have applied in the first place. And I am really glad that I did.

  • Abdel: Try new stuff.

From left to right: Abdel, Ana, John, Aisha, and Edson, each wearing college gear!

From left to right: Abdel, Ana, John, Aisha, and Edson, each wearing college gear!

Advice for Your First Summer at BEAM

Recently, we sat down with some of our older BEAM students to ask them what advice they would give to new students entering BEAM for the first time.  Here's what they had to say!

Zavier at All Star Code, 2015. 

Zavier at All Star Code, 2015. 

Zavier just finished his sophomore year at SUNY Albany where he has declared a major in computer science and a minor in art. He was a member of BEAM's first ever summer cohort: 2011. He was a Junior Counselor at BEAM 6's first summer (2016) and became of the first two BEAM alumni to work for us as full Counselors in 2017 (counselors must have completed a year of college). In 2018, he's flying to Los Angeles to staff the first summer of BEAM 6 LA. Beyond BEAM, Zavier was a member of the first ever cohort at All Star Code and he has extensive experience in coding, maker spaces, and teaching tech skills. Lots of firsts for Zavier! 

What should students expect from BEAM?

Students should expect to be encouraged to learn and be challenged by the questions they're given. They should expect to have people around them willing to help them through problems whether those problems have to do with math or not. Most importantly, students should expect to have a good time. BEAM is where I met some of the good friends I have today and I still look back on that summer remembering some of the fun times that I had.

Zavier plays tennis at BEAM 7 in 2011. 

Zavier plays tennis at BEAM 7 in 2011. 

What advice would you give to a student starting BEAM?   

The advice that I would give to a student starting BEAM is: don't feel discouraged by hard problems and don't be afraid to ask for help. BEAM helped me realize that as we grow, things become more difficult and problems seem to require more thought. Practicing patience and deeper thinking is all part of the process.

Why do you keep coming back to BEAM?

I keep coming back to BEAM because of the supportive staff. BEAM has opened the door to a lot of opportunities for me. They helped me when I was applying to high schools, they helped me when I was looking for summer programs, they helped me apply to college, and they even helped me find a job. It feels good to know that I have people who are always willing to help me out and it motivates me to do my best!

Zavier teaches Javascript to Elvis at BEAM 6 in 2017. 

Zavier teaches Javascript to Elvis at BEAM 6 in 2017. 

Tanasia at College Decision Day, 2018

Tanasia at College Decision Day, 2018

Tanasia, 12th grade, will be attending the University of Rochester in the fall where she plans to major in math. She has spent three summers at BEAM, as a 7th grade student in 2013, and then as a Junior Counselor at BEAM 6 in 2016 and 2017. During the school year, she coaches two math teams at BEAM partner middle schools, including one at her own alma mater!

What should students expect from BEAM?

The math will be difficult; you won't get it right away. You might even struggle for the first two weeks! But you'll expand how you look at math. You'll make friendships and connections that will last for a long time. It's a new, fun experience. 

What advice would you give to a student starting BEAM?

Don't be afraid to ask the staff for help! Also: even with math, the counselors don't know everything. That's normal in math, not to know everything. 

Why do you keep coming back to BEAM?

I love to see where the students start and where they end. They evolve as mathematicians and they can solve problems they couldn't do before. It's amazing. 

Tanasia plays chess with Jack, BEAM 6 (2016)

Tanasia plays chess with Jack, BEAM 6 (2016)

John showing his school pride! 

John showing his school pride! 

John just finished his freshman year at Fordham University, where he plans to declare a major in chemistry. He is also taking pre-med coursework and aims to be a surgeon. John attended Bard High School Early College and graduated with both a high school diploma and an Associate's Degree. He attended BEAM 7 in 2012, and has contributed to BEAM in so many ways since! He was a junior counselor at BEAM 6 in 2016 and 2017, he is the TA for our 8th grade Algebra class, and he works in the BEAM office as an part-time assistant during the school year. In summer 2018, he and two friends who also attended BEAM 7 in 2012 (Joel and Quentin), will be counselors at BEAM 7 Bard College. They are the first BEAM alumni to go back as staff to the exact same program they attended as students!

What should students expect from BEAM? 

I was expecting math all day and not much fun. But you should expect to be in a community of math lovers. For me, the community was the thing. I enjoyed being in a space where everyone loved math, shared my interests. Expect to be in a loving, math community. Expect to be challenged. Expect to make amazing friends you'll keep for a century. Expect to have fun: trips are amazing, the food is good, activities. It's not just math all the time; it's something immersive. 

What advice would you give to a student starting BEAM?   

Keep an open mind. It may seem tedious to lose your summer, but you'll have fun. I was afraid the first day. So, be open. Step a little outside your comfort zone. Those might be your friends for the rest of your life. 

Quentin (left, red cap), John (next to him), and members of the BEAM 7 community in 2012 during a karaoke activity. 

Quentin (left, red cap), John (next to him), and members of the BEAM 7 community in 2012 during a karaoke activity. 

When you spent that first summer with us, did you ever think you would end up being such good friends with Quentin?

He came up to me. I don't remember what he said. But ever since then, we became friends, playing basketball. BEAM helped us stay friends because they introduced us to the same high school. So I've stayed friends with him ever since. Derek, too! I didn't get to know Derek much that summer, but we became friends during high school and we still talk. 

Why do you keep coming back to BEAM?

Honestly? I want to stay part of a community that's so supportive, loves math. I want to give back. BEAM helped me move in the direction I'm moving in now. I want to influence the next generation as they figure out their path. It's an amazing program, amazing community that should continue to exist and I want to help that. 

The BEAM 6 group photo from 2017! Quentin (white jacket) is in the front row and John is all the way in the back. Mona, Zavier, Tanasia, and Rashik are here, too: Mona is in the front, on the left, Zavier is wearing a black cap in the middle on the right, Tanasia is in the middle, near the back, and Rashik is in the center, left with a baseball cap on. 

The BEAM 6 group photo from 2017! Quentin (white jacket) is in the front row and John is all the way in the back. Mona, Zavier, Tanasia, and Rashik are here, too: Mona is in the front, on the left, Zavier is wearing a black cap in the middle on the right, Tanasia is in the middle, near the back, and Rashik is in the center, left with a baseball cap on. 

Crisleidy at the Moth City Slam, spring 2018. 

Crisleidy at the Moth City Slam, spring 2018. 

Crisleidy is graduating from Brooklyn Tech this June. She's taking a gap year next year, working at City Year (an Americorps program). During the year, she volunteers at BEAM Next, our program for 9th and 10th graders, teaching life skills (like study skills). This summer, she will be a Junior Counselor at BEAM 6 in NYC. 

What should students expect from BEAM? 

To step out of your comfort zone. There's a lot of new stuff. I didn't know any math, puzzle, logic games before the summer and then I got really into them. 

What advice would you give to a student starting BEAM?  

Learn how to play chess! There's people at the program who know and they'll teach you. Try everything once! There might be something you enjoy. But you don't have to try anything you're not comfortable with. 
 
Why do you keep coming back to BEAM?

It's fun. I love the people. A nice community, a family. I can't get enough! Plus, I appreciate all the help I've gotten.

Crisleidy plays her favorite board game, Ricochet Robots, at BEAM 7 in 2013. 

Crisleidy plays her favorite board game, Ricochet Robots, at BEAM 7 in 2013. 

Rashik, volunteer math grading in 2018.

Rashik, volunteer math grading in 2018.

Rashik is an 11th grader at Bard High School Early College, which means he's currently dual-enrolled in "Year 1", the first year of his Associate's Degree. Rashik attended BEAM 7 in 2014. He was a Junior Counselor in 2017 and will be returning to that role in summer 2018. During the school year, he coaches math teams at two BEAM partner middle schools. 

What should students expect from BEAM? 

I think students should expect it to be an uncomfortable environment at first but once they're in the flow of things they'll love what they're learning and that they're surrounded by people that who also love what they're learning. Also, students should expect work they've never seen before: they may be confused by it, or it might take them longer than their normal math questions.

Rashik presents the solution to a challenge problem at BEAM 7 in 2014. 

Rashik presents the solution to a challenge problem at BEAM 7 in 2014. 

What advice would you give to a student starting BEAM? 

The most important advice I'd give is that you have to persevere and keep working even when it gets really frustrating. There's no feeling worse than being stuck on a problem forever, but there's also no feeling better than finally solving that problem. In terms of social advice, I'd tell the kids to be themselves. There are other amazing kids at BEAM, so be brave and try to make new friends and have new experiences.

Why do you keep coming back to BEAM?

I keep coming back to BEAM partly because I made some amazing friends and that small circle still exists today. But also because the open environment that BEAM has established makes me always feel welcomed; I feel like I can go to them for any problem. I always feel like I have a community outside of school or home that I can go to for help. Plus, BEAM also takes me to Yale every year which is pretty cool. 

Rashik, Eli, Tanasia, and Andy in January 2018 at our MATHCOUNTS prep event. All four of these high school students coach math teams at our partner middle schools!

Rashik, Eli, Tanasia, and Andy in January 2018 at our MATHCOUNTS prep event. All four of these high school students coach math teams at our partner middle schools!

Mona at BEAM College Day, fall 2016. 

Mona at BEAM College Day, fall 2016. 

Mona is graduating from the Academy for Software Engineering this June. She'll be attending Barnard College as a HEOP Scholar this fall. She plans to major in mathematics with a computer science concentration. During the year, Mona is the TA for BEAM's Saturday programming class (for 9th and 10th graders). She was also been a Junior Counselor at BEAM 6 in 2017. 

What should students expect from BEAM? 

To have a lot of fun. Honestly. You might not expect that. Maybe your parents pushed you to do it. But it's not like school, it's fun. At the same time, expect it to be challenging.

What advice would you give to a student starting BEAM?  

Be open minded. Lots of activities you might not be sure about. Don't say: I'm not good at this, I don't want to try it. Check it out!
 
Why do you keep coming back to BEAM?

It's a family! It's relationships. The people are easy to talk to, they make you feel comfortable. That sounds cheesy but it's true. 

Mona (front) with a dozen BEAM students at our annual Slightly Mathy Trivia Night, fall 2017. Crisleidy, John, and Rashik are also pictured!

Mona (front) with a dozen BEAM students at our annual Slightly Mathy Trivia Night, fall 2017. Crisleidy, John, and Rashik are also pictured!

BEAM High School Students Focus on College

What is college really like? How much work is it, and can you have fun while still doing well academically? On Saturday, March 10, BEAM high school students spent the day focusing on college: the experience, the application process, and the next steps for each student. During the morning, five former BEAM 6 and 7 camp counselors spoke about their college experiences. Raul, Oksana, Marquia, John, and Rachel shared from their time at MIT, City College, SUNY Oswego, Fordham, and Bard College.

They addressed the challenges of being students of color on predominately white campuses. "Often in class I will get an attitude, like 'You don't get an opinion because you're Black'" said John. "You have to get used to being the only person of color in classes." Marquia shared that even though the student body at Oswego was more diverse, there was still little diversity among the faculty. In contrast, Oksana enjoyed the great diversity at City College, but she faced other challenges. "Because my high school did not prepare me well, I noticed that I had to work harder than other students. I had to put my best foot forward."

Students_listening
Counselor Panel

In the afternoon BEAM students focused on the college admissions process. They played the role of admissions officers, selecting only two out five applicants to admit. This led into a discussion of what steps they could take now to better prepare themselves for college. The day ended with breakout groups by grade, with specific advice for 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students. The 11th grade students also heard from current BEAM 12th graders about how college admissions went for them.

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. 

Pamela cropped.JPG
"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."

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:

Camila

Camila

Anthony

Anthony

Ivy

Ivy

Ivy Harvard.jpg
Serigne

Serigne

Lismary

Lismary

David

David

Thays

Thays

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Emyr

Emyr

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!

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
Angelina
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.  

Agata