WATSONVILLE — More than 140 eighth-graders from 13 schools will spend a week of their summer learning about mathematics during the 10th annual Bruce W. Woolpert Algebra Academy.

The academy, which kicks off Monday, started in 2010 when Bruce W. Woolpert and Kevin Jeffery of Graniterock teamed up with Professor Hongde Hu of Cal State Monterey Bay. Their goal for the program was for gifted eighth-grade students to expand their knowledge and love of mathematics. The program now also has partnerships with strawberry grower Driscoll’s and UC Santa Cruz.

While Woolpert, whose passion for math laid the groundwork for this program, died in 2012, the program is dedicated to staying true and expanding upon his vision. “(Woolpert) loved math to the point where that was his passion,“ said Christy Zepeda, executive director of the academy. “(Woolpert) really was focused on this particular age group since it was a really important time to help kids get excited about math because this is the age when they start to not like math as much.”

Besides having important timing, the program also teaches an important subject.

“Algebra is the key that unlocks math success in the future for these kids’ careers,” said Kevin Jeffery, Graniterock vice president and academy board chair. “If you understand algebra well, you’re going to do great in algebra two and calculus and trig and beyond and if you don’t master algebra well, you’re going to struggle all the way through.”

While the program strengthens and prepares students for algebra in the eighth grade, the program also introduces the students to more advanced mathematics, such as early concepts of trigonometry and calculus.

“The purpose is to prepare them for great success in eighth-grade algebra and then to introduce them to some of the key concepts that they’ll see in more advanced math and in the rest of their academic career,” Jeffery said.

The academy started with 40 students from Rolling Hills Middle School, but there are now more than 140 students enrolled from 13 schools in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties. In order to accommodate so many students, approximately 100 students go to Graniterock and the other 40 go to Driscoll’s.

To get into the academy, students were first nominated by teachers at their school, and then they filled out an application and completed an assessment exam.

“It’s an enrichment opportunity for the highest achieving students,” Jeffery said.

“(Woolpert) wanted to take higher-performing students and give them opportunities that they may not have in the regular classroom, and that’s something we really take to heart,” Zepeda added. “Our program is very rigorous and we’re able to teach them and dive into math in ways that they might not get in a regular classroom.”

Part of the program involves presentations from workers within Graniterock or Driscoll’s who talk about how they use math in their jobs. Presenters include environmental scientists, geologists, mining engineers and scientists studying agriculture.

The program also includes a field trip to CSUMB to encourage students to go to college.

“The vast majority of students who come through our program are looking to be the first in their family to go on to college and we’re really excited about helping provide another springboard for those students and those families,” Jeffery said.

After the week in the summer, the academy continues to offer support to its students throughout the year by taking them on two field trips and supporting math clubs and math festivals at the participating schools.

“We’re trying to help these schools grow a culture of math excellence and communicate that math is fun and exciting to learn,” Jeffery added.

The future of the academy is to continue to grow and teach as many students as possible. To do so will require more business and educational partnerships, but according to Jeffery, the academy is “definitely a scalable model.”

“We want to serve as many kids as we can,” Zepeda said. “We’ve come this far in 10 years and that’s really exciting.”