By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) — Learning takes place all the time, even when a child is playing. A group of students from the Wetherbee School in Lawrence were in a math lesson while flying kites in a Raytheon parking lot.

Emily Cislo, a Raytheon manufacturing engineer, explained “The object is the Pythagorean Theorem and we are going to learn how far up in the air our kite is, using the Pythagorean Theorem, and measuring off a distance using this tape measure.”

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The kite flying project is a joint effort between Raytheon and Family Services of the Merrimack Valley. Eighth grade student Marcus Tejeda likes the idea of flying kites to learn math because it’s fun.

“If you just throw a paper in front of a kid and it says a lot of words and there is a triangle and you tell the kids, ‘figure it out,’ it is going to be boring for them.”

Math is important for the technology jobs that the regional economy increasingly depends upon. A recent test of the nation’s high school seniors found a wide achievement gap. The National Assessment of Educational Progress found 47% of Asian students were proficient in math. 33% of white students met the standard, but only 12% of Hispanic and 7% of black students did.

Kristen Hilf, a vice president at Raytheon, said “If you engage children early, then they are more likely to want to pursue a STEM degree, an engineering or STEM related career, later in life.”

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Raytheon’s Math Moves U program is geared toward getting students from all walks of life interested in engineering. It includes projects like the kite flying exercise, as well as tutoring for the MCAS, SAT, and even science fair projects.

”It is a combination of making sure we have the next generation of engineers coming to work for Raytheon, that they are equipped and ready to go, but also to make sure that innovation thrives in the United States,” said Hilf.

Eighth grader Antar Jimenez. Jr. is now thinking about becoming an architect or engineer, and feels this program is awesome. They are able to help me out in math, and English, and able to boost my confidence in many things, so thumbs up!”

A young man who went thru this program will soon be returning to Raytheon, but this time as an employee. He just graduated from college and was hired as an engineer.

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Paula Ebben