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Cal State Fullerton Program to Offer Math Enrichment
for Young Women
Project MISS

Female high school students use calculators while learning during this year’s annual Project MISS (Mathematics Intensive Summer Session) through July 28 at Cal State Fullerton. The program encourages 10th and 11th grade females to pursue careers with a foundation in mathematics by providing an intensive skills-building summer course in either algebra 2 or precalculus.

Photo by Patrick O’Donnell

Project MISS is geared to enhancing the math skills of 10th- and 11th-grade females and encourage them to pursue careers with a foundation in mathematics.

June 28, 2006 :: No. 290

Young women will be exploring career opportunities in math, the sciences and engineering this summer while getting a jump on algebra 2 and precalculus as participants in this year’s Project MISS (Mathematics Intensive Summer Session) offered July 5-28 at Cal State Fullerton.

Begun in 1990 by David L. Pagni, professor of mathematics, Project MISS is geared to enhancing the math skills of 10th- and 11th-grade females from Orange County and surrounding communities. Since its inception, 98 percent of Project MISS participants have completed high school and entered college — 20 percent majoring in science, technology, engineering and math.

The program encourages young women to pursue careers with a foundation in mathematics by providing an intensive skills-building summer course. The long-range goal, says Pagni, is to help more young women succeed in calculus, thus opening the door to such university majors as chemistry, engineering, geology, biology, physics and math and the careers they inspire.

The short-term goal is to address the needs of female high school students who are college bound and succeeding in all course work except math. With the program’s intensive training, students regain the confidence and skills needed to succeed, according to Pagni.

Participants study six hours a day, Monday through Friday, focusing on either algebra 2 or precalculus. But it’s not all book work. The goal is to make the lessons fun and interesting, so students work in teams on projects, posters and other activities, says Pagni, a longtime leader in mathematics education.

Each group is guided by two instructors — Cal State Fullerton math majors in the university’s teacher education program. In addition, each group works with two tutors, also math majors, aspiring to enter the credential program after graduation.

“Though the team approach, MISS students work in a supportive, nurturing environment focused on a student self-improvement, not competition,” says Pagni, adding that student also learn to use a graphing calculator to investigate math concepts.

Last year Pagni was honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. The award, administered by the National Science Foundation, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to mentoring students and increasing the participation of minorities, women and the disabled in science, mathematics and engineering. Pagni is a recipient of the Outstanding Professor Award from both Cal State Fullerton and the California State University system.

In addition to Project MISS, Pagni also directs the university’s Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Program, which works with local high schools to help math teachers identify students’ strengths and weaknesses so that educators can readjust their teaching to meet student needs. 

The professor also co-directs the Orange County Mathematics Project, a program dedicated to enhancing the algebra skills of those teaching fifth through ninth grades in three area school districts.

Pagni has garnered more than $20 million in grants for enhancing teacher training and student learning, as well as changing the way math is taught in elementary schools in the Santa Ana Unified School District.

Additional information about Project MISS is available at 657-278-2671.

Media Contacts:

David L. Pagni, Mathematics, 657-278-2671 or
Pamela McLaren, Public Affairs, 657-278-4852 or

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