LEWISTON — In her seven years of tutoring, Bates College senior Lauren Berube of Auburn has learned that students struggle with math, not because they don’t understand it, but because they don’t have enough confidence in themselves.

“When I started designing lessons that were more motivating and engaging based off of the student’s interests, they loved math,” Berube said.

When it came time to write her senior thesis at Bates, Berube combined her love of math and education to study how educators can improve lessons to increase motivation and engagement among middle school students.

On Friday, Berube and over 200 other students — mostly seniors — presented research projects at Bates ranging from local religious practices to discovering alternatives to lithium batteries; climate studies in the high Arctic Svalbard to creative pursuits.

While many of the projects highlighted research from around the globe, some students chose to focus on local topics.

It was the first time since 2019 the annual event was held in person, and the energy and excitement among attendees was palpable. In its 20 years, Mount David Summit has become a milestone for Bates student celebrating the close of their college careers.


“What they do is incredibly impressive,” Assistant Dean of the Faculty Kerry O’Brien said. “If you walk through these poster sessions, just looking visually at the type of knowledge they’re creating, it’s really astonishing.”

O’Brien said it was difficult to limit the audience. Usually, all who wish to attend are able to, including community members, alums and incoming students.

Still, the event was packed with hundreds of students, employees and parents.

For her thesis, Berube crafted several lesson plans centered around the interests of middle school students, including social media, video games and movement-based activities.

“I’ve noticed a lot of classrooms with students who are fairly disengaged, and I think it’s because a lot of classrooms for math are taught with ‘chalk and talk,'” she explained.

She plans to carry these lessons past graduation, either to add to a larger curriculum or to use in her growing tutoring business.


Gilleyanne Davis-Oaks, a senior from Vinalhaven, partnered with Jennifer Edwards, Auburn’s public health manager, to gauge interest among Androscoggin County businesses in an initiative aimed at providing resources and training to support employees struggling with substance abuse.

The idea is based on Recovery Friendly Workplaces, an organization based in New Hampshire which has grown to work with more than 300 employers since its start in 2018.

More than half of the local employers surveyed said their workplace had been impacted by substance abuse disorder, and nearly all said they were either “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to join the initiative if implemented.

“Just by overall becoming a Recovery Friendly Workplace and understanding substance use disorder and setbacks, you reduce turnover, which saves you time and money from hiring somebody new,” Davis-Oaks explained.

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