Thursday, 06 June 2019 16:53

Epps combining sports and math for Dobbins Heights learning camp

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Jeff Epps will be teaching a free camp later this month in Dobbins Heights using sports to help students learn mathematical concepts. Jeff Epps will be teaching a free camp later this month in Dobbins Heights using sports to help students learn mathematical concepts. Contributed photo

DOBBINS HEIGHTS — A new summer camp aims to help kids learn math by applying concepts on the field.

Denise Cozart and Jeff Epps have teamed up to bring the S.W.E.L.L. Mathletics Camp to the Dobbins Heights Park and Community Center later this month.

S.W.E.L.L.— STEM Wellness Empowering Lifelong Learners — brings Cozart’s expertise in mental health together with Epps’ experience in teaching students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math or STEM.

For mental health to improve, Cozart said, “we have to adjust some of the things we’re doing in education.”

“Teachers will call and say, ‘They’re throwing chairs, they’re doing this, they’re doing that … and it’s because they’re having other learning challenges” which is the students’ way of saying they don’t want teachers to know they can’t do basic arithmetic, Cozart said. 

Epps, who retired from the state in December to focus more on STEMERALD City, said that in recent years, he and other educators have noticed that a majority of students are spatial thinkers, which means they think in terms of shapes, space and quantities — which are mathematical concepts. He said a lot of them are also athletes.

The question, he said, then becomes: “If they’re thinking in math, why aren’t they good in math?”

The challenge, Epps added, is making math real to them.

“Teaching is going to have to change to meet their learning style,” he said. “You have to meet the students where they are — now we can teach them.”

Similar to what happened in the HBO series “The Wire” — where a teacher taught students probability by playing dice like they did in the streets — that’s exactly what Epps will be doing in the upcoming camp.

For the first two hours, Epps said he will be helping campers visualize mathematical concepts including the number line, decimal placement and fractions by using cones on the basketball court and ball field.

The next two hours will be spent learning 3-D modeling software.

Aside from the learning curve, Cozart said another challenge for some students is that similar summer camps can be cost prohibitive.

Both Cozart and Epps said they tend to see the same kids at camps each year because their families can afford to send them.

“So we wanted to target that population” who generally can’t afford the camps, Cozart said.

So with financial support from Danny Hayes at House of Fish, Doc Hill’s Family Care Home and other donors, as well as cooperation from Mayor Antonio Blue, Councilwoman Angeline David and the rest of the Dobbins Heights Town Council, this camp will be available for free to the first 30 kids who are registered.

The free camp, for rising third- through eighth-graders, will be from 8 a.m. to noon June 24-27.

Registration is required. Applications are available at Asha B’s Closet, 363 Earle Franklin Drive, Hamlet or by visiting 

Other camps are planned throughout the year.