CWU News

More than 100 Middle School Students to Attend GEAR UP Math Festival

More than 100 middle-school students in will descend upon the Central Washington University campus to attend the annual GEAR UP Math Festival on November 15.

GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a CWU program funded by an  $18 million-plus US Department of Education grant, one of several that the university has received in the past 15 years. The current grant, SOAR3 (Success, Opportunity, Affordability and Rigor, Relevance and Relationships) serves students in the Brewster, Easton, Highland, Lake Chelan, Manson, Omak, Oroville, Quincy, Richland, Tonasket, and Wenatchee school districts.

“Participating in STEM competitions is a key component of the grant,” said Kelley Quirk, program manager. “Earlier this year, we took students to the VEX Robotics World Competition in Louisville, Kentucky.

On Tuesday, the students will take part in hands on math activities, led by CWU math professors, math students, and GEAR UP CWU student mentors. They will also take the American Math Challenge test (AMC 8). The AMC 8 is a 25-question, 40-minute, multiple-choice exam in middle school mathematics designed to promote the development of problem solving skills. The AMC 8 provides an opportunity for middle school students to develop positive attitudes towards analytical thinking and mathematics that can assist in future careers. Students apply classroom-learned skills to unique problem-solving challenges, in a low-stress friendly environment.

“Last year we had 200 students attend,” said Brandy Wiegers, math professor. “We will also provide a similar opportunity for 10th through 12th graders next year, on February 7, 2017.

“This year we’re going to again turn the day into a Math Festival,” she continued. “The idea is to surround the competition with fun and positive math vibes, and to introduce a whole lot of potential future students to our department. We’ll give the students a fun talk during lunch, and then have one more fun activity with them before sending them home.”

Wiegers is also the director for the Kittitas Valley Math Circles for elementary and middle school students and their parents.

For more information about the Math Festival, or to volunteer, contact Wiegers at, or Quirk at

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,

November 9, 2016