BEAM Pathway Leads to HMC

For three weeks this summer, East Dorm will be home to 40 math-minded seventh graders and their chaperones. The students, all from the Los Angeles area, were selected through a highly competitive admission process to participate in the Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM) Pathway program, a free, residential summer camp for students who like math and solving puzzles, and who want to challenge themselves to learn more.

Inspired by a mission to create pathways for underserved students to become scientists, mathematicians, engineers and computer scientists, Daniel Zaharopol founded BEAM in New York in 2011 with 17 students. Since then, the program has grown to serve more than 180 sixth and seventh grade students each summer, as well as more than 400 program alumni in grades eight through 12 during the academic year.

This is the first year a BEAM summer residential program has been held on the West Coast, and the choice to house the program at Harvey Mudd College was intentional. “Of course, we were looking for a campus that could house us for three weeks,” says Program Coordinator Dan Laackman, “but we also wanted to find a school that would inspire our students.”

Students spend their days on campus taking courses taught by BEAM faculty (a mix of university professors and middle school and high school teachers from across the country) and participating in various activities. They’ll also visit open labs on campus and take field trips on the weekends.

Laackman joined BEAM after finishing his PhD in mathematics at UCLA, where he worked in the area of theoretical algebra. In addition to coordinating the logistics of the residential program, he will also teach some of the classes. “Just to have the opportunity to introduce kids to math is really exciting,” he says.