What's New at MSMS

The Brainstorm

Afternoon with MSMS Alumna Yield Entrepreneurship Discussions

By Mariat Thankachan

On the journey of discovering passions and life aspirations, numerous MSMS students find themselves interested in the prospect of creating their own business. Questions on how they should take the risky leap and what processes they should follow down the path of entrepreneurship circle the young, creative minds. An informative seminar featuring MSMS Class of 2012 alumna, Ellice Patterson, proved invaluable to students looking to gain more insight into the world of business. 

Students flocked into Shackleford Auditorium on Saturday, Oct. 14 to attend Patterson’s seminar, where she described her experiences with establishing Abilities Dance in Boston. This developing company focuses on implementing modern choreography into dance and encourages individuals with physical disabilities to express themselves with the aid of creative movement. 

Dr. Kayla Hester, MSMS Economics instructor, explains that the seminar gave students an opportunity to have their questions answered and be inspired by the accomplishments of a member of the MSMS family. 

“The purpose was to basically bring in an MSMS alum who has become an entrepreneur and let her talk about her experience and allow the students to potentially see themselves as doing something like that in the future and seeing that as something that’s very feasible,” Hester stated. 

Patterson began working towards building her company after enduring a spinal operation that left her relearning how to move her body. With music specially composed to fit the style of her dancers, she puts effort into ensuring that dance is professionally accessible to all, even those with physical limitations. Patterson shared pieces of her choreography with the students, responding to inquiries while twirling around barefoot on the floors of Shackleford. 

Junior Lori Feng comments on the ways she found time with Patterson to be impactful.

“It was really inspiring to see someone from MSMS be able to start something so successful. It shows that we all can truly succeed and we just need to follow through with our aspirations. I learned about the process of starting a new business, which I found was particularly insightful because I am also interested in starting my own social enterprise in the future,” Feng expressed. 

Abilities Dance has been growing under Patterson’s care for nearly two years, securing studios for practice and seeking investors for grants. This innovative dance company seeks to one day become a non-profit organization, producing dance shows that inspire and suit dancers of all abilities.  


Julia MorrisonComment
MSMS Faculty Present at the Mississippi Council of Teachers of Mathematics

The Mississippi Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) is a professional organization for mathematics instructors across the state of Mississippi. They held their annual conference October 13 and 14 at Germantown High School in Madison. The conference theme was, “Math Instruction: Make it Count!” All four mathematics faculty members from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, Lauren Zarandona, Kishan Patel, Shae Koenigsberger, and Philip Benge, served as session presenters at this year’s conference.

Ms. Zarandona provided an overview on the teaching website called Desmos, which features a collection of free digital activities designed to encourage students’ mathematics exploration. MSMS recently purchased a classroom set of iPads to give students access to Desmos to reinforce mathematics instruction. All mathematics faculty at MSMS have incorporated Desmos into their lesson plans. The remainder of the MSMS mathematics faculty members each presented on a specific aspect of Desmos to show other math teachers around the state how to incorporate additional technology into their classroom instruction.

Dr. Benge discussed how to leverage Desmos to encourage students to develop mathematical reasoning skills in addition to rote mathematical content knowledge. He highlighted the importance of inquiry-based learning as an essential component in fostering student curiosity and exploration.

Ms. Koenigsberger led a session on Desmos activities for pre-calculus instruction. She provided interactive demonstrations for two Desmos activities entitled Water Line and Introduction to Inverse Functions. Water Line focused on reinforcing graphing skills to illustrate variable changes over time. Introduction to Inverse Functions highlighted the symmetry behind inverse functions. Both of these activities have been instrumental in how Ms. Koenigsberger approaches teaching pre-calculus.

Mr. Patel focused on activities that lend themselves well to the discipline of differential calculus. He spotlighted specific Desmos activities to introduce specific calculus topics and facilitate casual mathematical discourse among students before formal mathematical language is used. Mr. Patel led AP Calculus teachers through a simulation of each activity from a student perspective. He concluded his session with a discussion on the pros and cons of each activity and suggestions for how to incorporate them into classroom instruction.

The Mississippi Council of Teachers of Mathematics is the foremost professional organization for mathematics teachers in the state of Mississippi. Each year, the MCTM conference seeks to promote the cooperative study of problems relating to teaching of mathematics across all levels of instruction and create a forum for best practice sharing across the state. MSMS is proud of our mathematics faculty for not only attending the conference, but also for sharing their innovative strategies for encouraging student interest in mathematics.

MSMS is excited to host the 2018 MCTM conference on our campus here in Columbus. Stay tuned for more information.

Julia MorrisonComment
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.”

unnamed (2).jpg
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 for more information.

Julia MorrisonComment
MSMS for the WIN!

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

tennis rings.jpeg
Julia MorrisonComment