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How Mathcamp Works

Our goal is to combine the fun and excitement of a summer camp with a genuine spirit of serious learning.

Academically, we give the students (and the instructors!) ample opportunities for freedom and exploration, a wide choice of topics and formats of study, and very few mandatory activities – while providing a range of classes and projects to suit all levels. Last year, topics included graph theory, dynamical systems, quantum mechanics, the continuum hypothesis, asymptotics, and geometric group theory (among many others). Students are free to design their schedule, perhaps choosing to attend advanced courses in topics they understand well, while also taking more elementary classes in unfamiliar areas. Our role is to offer the students plenty of choice, advice, and support as they steer their own way through the curriculum.

In addition to classroom teaching, we provide a spectrum of activities relating to mathematics (and learning) in the broadest sense. These include student talks, problem-solving sessions, mathematical model-making, puzzle relays, discussions on such topics as mathematics education, the philosophy of mathematics, and many more. Many mentors offer to supervise independent student research projects. As a mentor, you will be welcome (in fact, strongly encouraged!) to come up with ideas of your own and to bring them to fruition.

A Mathcamp mentor with students at TAU.

Outside of class, mentors act as counselors who are available to give mathematical (and non-mathematical) advice to the campers at all hours of the day and night, indoors and out, rain or shine. We have lots of opportunities to interact with campers outside of class, formally and informally: we hold office hours on weekday afternoons (often outside, weather permitting!), and campers are eager to talk about the math on their minds over meals in the dining hall, in the lounges in the evening, or even on hikes during the weekend.

Mathcamp students have the freedom to use their time as they wish. Each year we have an absolutely wonderful group of campers, and experience shows that they are remarkably good at taking responsibility and initiative given the chance and grateful to us for not trying to micromanage their lives the way summer camps too often do. We do provide some organizational and structural foundations – like activities and field trips, and a few guidelines for behavior – but we try to relate to the students as friends and older peers, providing counsel and advice, rather than regarding them as subordinates who need to be told what to do. It is certainly much more enjoyable this way, for all concerned!