At its core, the field of mathematics involves problem solving, and the math campers have received plenty of practice with challenge problems during the course of VAMPY. Most of the students’ time has been spent independently studying subjects like algebra, trigonometry, or calculus, and that textbook-based learning has equipped the students with new tools and methods to tackle new, complex problems.
When doing problem solving activities, the campers often work in pairs or small groups, and this allows each of their individual talents to shine. When one student gets stuck, the others offer their own suggestions on how to proceed towards the solution. By working on problems that involve many areas of mathematics, some of the older students have had opportunities to demonstrate new mathematical techniques to their younger peers. It has been inspiring to watch the campers display their obvious enthusiasm for learning, and to build camaraderie with each other around their shared love for the subject of math.
Starting with the second week, the students have also had the opportunity to hear lectures from math faculty about topics like topology, projectile motion, game theory, and fractals. For the most part, the lecture topics are completely new to these students, giving them the chance to expand their horizons and develop new interests. During downtime, the campers have been working on modular origami projects, which allow them to recharge while being immersed in geometric patterns. It has been a privilege to work with the students during VAMPY, and I am sure that all of them will use what they have learned and continue to succeed even after the camp is finished.