‘Math is boring if you don’t think about it’

The mathematics course at VAMPY is formatted a little differently from the rest. In this course, we have students in a range of classes. Some students are going into Algebra 1 or 2, while others are going into Precalculus. Since they are at different levels, we have a textbook for each student to jump into the next course in their studies. However, how fun is studying a textbook six hours a day during summer camp? Only a couple of hours a day focuses on the texts; the rest of the time is used for the exploration of topics students might not see in high school or even in college. They also have had time to make mathematical origami and Desmos art graphs, as well as hear talks from professors! 

To start our day, morning problem-solving lasts about an hour. During this time, students collaborate and enhance their pattern recognition skills, formulas, and creativity. Many problems require drawings, tables, or graphs to help students find the answers. The best part is that there are multiple ways to get to the answer – math is fluid. As one student said, “Math is boring if you don’t think about it.” Sometimes the art in math comes from within and through determination.  

Two professors have come to talk with the campers about specific areas in math, and two more are scheduled to join the class within the next week. Dr. Claus Ernest, WKU Distinguished Professor Emeritus, came to talk about knot theory, and Dr. Bruce Kessler, WKU Professor Emeritus, showed us how to depict never-ending graphs. The students were able to work further on their problem-solving skills on high-level mathematics topics – and some maybe not so high level topics. “After 15 years, I finally learned to untie knots thanks to Dr. Claus,” one student said.

Dr. Dominic Lanphier of WKU and Dr. Natasha Gerstenslager Wilson of Imagine Learning will be coming by the end of this week. We look forward to learning with them.

— Alyssa B., teaching assistant