North Central’s math program wins grant for high school enrichment program

May 08, 2013

North Central College’s department of mathematics recently secured a competitive Dolciani Mathematics Enrichment Grant (DMEG) from the Mathematical Association of America. The grant will be used to develop E2 (Expository Engagement): North Central Math Circle, an after-school math enrichment program for area high school students.

“It’s really exciting to be able to engage young, math-minded students at North Central,” said Neil Nicholson, North Central College assistant professor of mathematics and project director of E2.

E2 is a structured program slated to begin Sept. 2 and meet biweekly. Each meeting will include a 45-minute lecture from a guest speaker on a mathematical topic followed by a 45-minute problem-solving session. North Central’s Naperville location is strategically situated near the Illinois Technology and Research Corridor along I-88, placing the College within a short drive of top-notch speakers and high-achieving area high school students.

The E2 program will partner with neighboring Indian Prairie School District 204 to emphasize the state’s new Common Core Standards for mathematics.

“Participants can interact with professionals in the field, professors and other high school students,” said Shelly Porcellino, North Central’s director of grants. “There will also be undergraduate student mentors—all math majors—who will mentor and work with the high school students. It’s a win-win for both groups.”

Nicholson developed the idea for a high school math enrichment program at the College about a year ago. He hoped to create a program that brought together the expository math talks that have been offered at the University of Missouri at Kansas City for nearly 25 years and the increasingly popular math circles offered at colleges and universities across the United States.

“Dr. Nicholson had a vision for what he wanted, and we found this grant,” Porcellino says. “It’s a great match for his vision.”

Nicholson also hopes to expose participants in E2 to the possibilities and opportunities available to students who study math at a small liberal arts college.

“It’ll be good to show that the one-on-one math education you receive at a school like North Central can be just as beneficial as studying math at a large school,” he said.

Those interested should contact Nicholson for more information at 630-637-5233 or

By Klariza Alvaran ’13