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Math, computer program challenges kids, teens

Now in her tenth year, Laura Faucette, a mom of two, has been challenging hundreds of kids across the Triangle to excel in math and computer science.

Faucette helped bring The Institute for Mathematics & Computer Science to the Triangle in July 2002. The program, based in south Florida where she's originally from, is primarily geared toward gifted students who aren't challenged in the classroom.

IMACS offers summer, afterschool and weekend programs at locations in Cary, Chapel Hill and north Raleigh for kids from first grade to twelfth grade. Some kindergartners also may benefit from the program. Free demonstrations classes will be held this Saturday and next week.

Faucette, who studied math in college, considers the program a kind of "strength conditioning for your mind." Kids learn math concepts through interactive games and logic puzzles. The goal is to show kids that math isn't just about memorizing multiplication tables and drills.

Computer science programs include virtual robotics for kids as young as third grade and college-level computer science courses for students in middle school and high school.

"Our classes are meant to be fun," she tells me.

Classes range from an hour to two hours a week, depending on the program and age of the child. They typically get some homework to complete between classes.

All students must attend a free placement class to see where they'll fit into the program. Parents also can see what the program is all about during these classes.

Faucette tells me that kids who take the classes typically excel in not only math and science, but school and standardized tests. They are used to being challenged at IMACS and finding creative solutions for solving problems, she tells me.

"It's amazing what students can do when they're challenged," she tells me.

Watch the video to hear more from Faucette.