PALM DESERT, Calif. -

Teachers often find it a challenge showing kids that outside the classroom, math counts.

"The technology is so important but I don't think the kids really realize that's where it's all about," said 5th grade teacher Patricia Schoenfeld, who teaches at Hoover Elementary in Indio.

For the next four days, 70 teachers from around Riverside County will gather at U.C. Riverside in Palm Desert to take the students' places and learn how to make math exciting for young minds.

"The purpose of the academy is to inspire teachers so they can be the best catalyst for the next generation of doers and thinkers," said Pam Clute, Assistant Vice Chancellor for U.C. Riverside.

Clute began teaching math more than 40 years ago and still teaches it today. She shows her students how numbers affect their lives, and says analogies always help.

"When I talk about one billion kids drinking unhealthy water in the world that means nothing if they don't know what one billion is," Clute said. "If you made tally marks at the rate of one per second and you did that 24 hours per day it would take you 32 years to write a billion."

Teachers also get an interactive lesson in shapes and teaching kids the building blocks of science, engineering and technology.

"With five folds and a snip of paper, I can create something interesting and quite relevant because we want them to be stars of the future," Clute said as she created a star shape from the piece of folded paper.

"Working with my hands and building and knowing what I'm doing I'll be able to take back to the classroom and get kids excited about learning," Shoenfeld said.
    
Tools teachers hope students will use to stay competitive in our global economy.