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MSMS Students Visit MSU to Hear Apollo Astronauts Speak

On Wednesday, October 11, Mrs. Julie Heinz, social sciences faculty member at the Mississippi School for Mathematics & Science (MSMS), took a group of roughly fifty MSMS students to Mississippi State University’s Shackouls Honor College for a celebration of MSU’s recent admission into the prestigious Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF). The event featured Apollo astronauts Charlie Duke and Fred Haise as well as MSU alum and Apollo engineer, Jerry Bostick.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s mission is to help the United States retain its status as a world leader in key areas of science and technology by providing scholarships to talented college students pursing degrees STEM related fields. In honor of MSU’s recent admission into the ASF, the school wanted to host an event focused on how STEM innovations have impacted the world.

Tommy Anderson, MSU’s Director of Prestigious External Scholarships and Interim Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs, said the purpose of the event was to, “hear from national heroes how science and technology enable some of the most remarkable discoveries of this and the past century.”

This unique event provided MSMS students with an opportunity to hear first-hard narratives from three esteemed participants in the Apollo missions. Fred Haise, a Biloxi native, was the Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 13 and logged roughly 9,100 hours of flying time. He has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and has been added to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. Charlie Duke was the Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 16 and is best known for exploring the moon’s Descartes region during the 1972 mission. Both Haise and Duke shared their experiences in space and detailed the training they received prior to space travel. NASA Master Controller, Jerry Bostick, provided insight from an engineer’s perspective.

Keely Brewer, a current senior at MSMS, commented, “It was so interesting to hear from individuals who grew up in a time so different from what we have experienced. I loved hearing them share memories from their time on the moon. It was also interesting to hear how humble they were about their accomplishments and how grateful they were for the opportunity.

Mr. Kishan Patel, a member of the mathematics faculty at MSMS, was also in attendance and was similarly awed by the astronauts’ experiences. “It was pretty surreal to realize that the men on stage were actually on the moon…they were there! That experience is one that only a handful of humans have had.”

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Julia MorrisonComment
MSMS Hosts the Third Annual Math Superstars Competition

The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS) hosted the third annual Math Superstars Competition on Wednesday, October 11.  Math Superstars is one of MSMS’s most important outreach activities and was created specifically for elementary aged students. MSMS math instructor and Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching winner, Lauren Zarandona developed the concept based on a similar experience she had a budding mathematics student. Her own experience made such a lasting impact, Mrs. Zarandona wanted to provide elementary school kids across the state of Mississippi with a similar opportunity. 

When asked about her impetus for creating the program, Mrs. Zarandona stated, “Schools across the state depend on tests scores to improve their ranking in the state. In doing so, the brightest students in the class find themselves needing more of a challenge. Math Superstars works to challenge students in two ways: first they do three weeks of problem sets independently in their classrooms and then the top scorers compete at MSMS. We want to motivate students to persevere in problem-solving by providing challenging, interesting problems and to inspire them to pursue excellence in math in all of their courses.”

To assist with the development of the problem sets and coordinate event logistics, Mrs. Zarandona solicited support from the MSMS Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society and the entire senior class.  Leah Pettit, current MSMS senior and Mu Alpha Theta leader, said, “This year, we were really lucky to have so many MSMS kids writing problems, because that meant we could carefully structure the tests and questions to be exactly how we wanted them.” This additional support from the student body allowed for further customization of the problem sets based on student grade level. 

Roughly 120 students, representing five districts across the state of Mississippi, traveled to Columbus to participate in this year’s competition. This year’s event included team building activities, individual problem sets, math concept stations, and Breakout Boxes. Students were encouraged to interact with their peers from other districts during collaborative team based activities. 

I believe that Math Superstars is really beneficial to the state of Mississippi because we really inspire students all across the state to have a passion for math, and may one day they can come here and expand on that passion and really find what they love about it.
— Harpreet Singh, Current MSMS Senior

MSMS is proud to offer this incredible opportunity to all elementary schools in Mississippi and is eager to expand this event to include more districts throughout the state.  Elementary schools interested in participating in next year’s event should email publicrelations@themsms.org for more information.

Julia MorrisonComment
MSMS for the WIN!
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The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS) is often recognized for academic leadership, faculty scholarship, and state-wide outreach. While many people are aware of the school’s mission to serve gifted and talented students across the state, few would associate MSMS with athletic prowess.  Last spring the MSMS tennis team challenged that notion by defeating St. Andrews Episcopal School to win the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 3A State Championship Title.  MSMS ended the 2017 tennis season with a 10-2 record and a championship banner to boot!

Coach Katie Newman’s collaborative approach emphasized team work and comradery. Under Newman’s leadership, the team worked together to bolster one another’s individual talent. Additionally, Coach Newman altered the construction of the team and moved players around to ensure the strongest team overall. 

In honor the 2017 championship title, Jimmy Nix from Balfour Jewelers came to campus on Tuesday, October 10th to deliver the team’s championship rings. These keepsakes bear the recipient’s name and will serve as a lasting symbol of the team’s victory. 

Members of the 2017 MSMS Tennis Team include:

 Coach Katie Newman

David Thaggard, Current Senior

Brent Styles, Current Senior

Kenadi Freeman, Current Senior

Daniel Leetran, Current Senior

Erin Owens, Current Senior

Sarrah Der-Ballout, Current Senior

Morgan Dollar, 2017 Graduate

Noah McKone, 2017 Graduate

Frank Seid, 2017 Graduate

Russell Hatcher, 2017 Graduate

Vivian Van, 2017 Graduate

Maggie Ford, 2017 Graduate

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Julia MorrisonComment
Aspiring Eagle Scout Builds Bat Boxes for Campus
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Gene Kloss, current senior at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, is an aspiring Eagle Scout who designed an unusual Eagle Scout Service Project to creatively solve a problem, all the while protecting a delicate ecosystem.

The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science is housed on the Mississippi University of Women’s campus. Along with juniors and seniors from all across the Magnolia State, a colony of bats also calls this same campus home. Currently, the bat population on campus assists with mosquite prevention and management, as bats typically consume 1,000 mosquitos every evening. In attempt to reroute the bats to less densely populated areas of campus, Kloss conceived of an Eagle Scout project to encourage the bats to rehome near uninhabited buildings on campus. He designed a set of bat boxes to affix to abandoned buildings on campus to attract bats to these spaces and away from academic buildings and residential halls.

The designation of Eagle Scout is highly prestigious, as only 4% of Scouts ever achieve this award. In order to qualify as an Eagle Scout candidate, active scouts must have achieved Life Rank, must demonstrate how they embody the prinicples of the Scout Oath and Scout Law in their daily lives through service to their troop. They must also earn a total of 21 merit badges in key areas such as first aid, emergency preparedness, citizenship, personal fitness, camping, environmental science and more. The culmination of Eagle Scout application process is the Eagle Scout Service Project. Aspiring Eagle Scouts must plan, develop, and lead a service project that benefits their school, their community, or their religious institution. All Eagle Scout application requirement smust be completed before the Scout’s eighteenth birthday.

Now that Mr. Kloss’ service project is complete, he must finalize his Eagle Scout Application and prepare for his presentation before the Board of Review. During this meeting, Mr. Kloss will submit is completed application along with six character references, a statement of his ambitions and life purpose, as well as an account of his leadership positions and additional honors or awards.

Julia MorrisonComment
MSMS Students Participate in the First Annual Energy Awareness Day in Jackson
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The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Sciences (MSMS), in collaboration with the Mississippi Development Authority’s Energy & Natural Resources Division, conducted a traveling science carnival as part of Energy Awareness Day on Thursday, October 5th. Hundreds of students from across the Magnolia State flocked to the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Museum in Jackson for the first annual Energy Awareness Day. Students and teachers alike enjoyed a myriad of exciting exhibits, interactive workshops and hands-on presentations focused on sources of energy, energy efficiency, environmental protection, and conservation of natural resources.

Lisa Campbell, who manages conferences and event coordination for the Mississippi Development Authority’s Energy & Natural Resource division said, “Energy Awareness Day, is best described as an outdoor classroom, designed to encourage scientific literacy and energy education through interactive displays and presentations.”

For their part, MSMS students conducted experiments related to chemical, mechanical and electrical energy designed to capture the attention of middle school students and stimulate an increased interest in science. Additionally, MSMS students assisted with overall event logistics, serving as group guides and greeters, as well providing additional manpower to run the “Fun Tent”, which offered a handful of interactive energy games and associated prizes.

Keegan Lindsey, current senior at MSMS, said, “MSMS is an opportunity for excellence. Today we provided that opportunity to students all across Mississippi.”

Energy Awareness Day was a great opportunity for Mississippi students to gain exposure to energy education in a fun and engaging setting. This recent partnership between the Mississippi Development Authority and the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science represents a natural extension of MSMS’s own science carnival and builds on the school’s mission to serve as a bridge between classroom STEM education and Mississippi’s workforce needs in these critical areas.

Julia MorrisonComment