Freedom allows math campers to learn challenging content

Matthew Riggle
Matthew Riggle

Happy Independence Day from the VAMPY math class!  Appropriately, our campers have also “declared independence” from the traditional structured classroom setting.  Whether studying geometry, algebra, or calculus, each of our campers has been given the opportunity to work at his or her own pace.  The students are also given the freedom to work in their own preferred style, which might involve standing up to do calculations at the chalkboard or talking through a tricky problem aloud with a teacher or TA.  All the students have been working very hard, and I’m proud of their progress so far.

Although we have given the students plenty of independence, they have not been working in isolation from each other.  During the afternoons and study hall, students are given the opportunity to solve challenge problems that are much different from the sorts of problems they encounter in their book work.  Many of these problems might require trying several different approaches, so the students the opportunity to work in small groups and develop the valuable skill of teamwork.

This afternoon, we will be joining with the physics class for a special presentation by the Math course instructor Dr. Bruce Kessler, head of the WKU math department.  He will unleash the famous “Mathinator” in order to exhibit projectile motion.  The demonstration will give our students the opportunity to see the theory put directly into action by using a mathematical model to explain the real world.  What better way to study math than to shoot Nerf darts at a target?  In the days ahead, the campers will enjoy several similar presentations, exposing them to other topics such as topology and probability that they might not otherwise encounter for themselves.

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