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Summer math camps prove how the field equals fun

Students in the Canadian National Camp make origami experiments. Photo by Diana Tyszko.

Students in the Canadian National Camp make origami experiments. Photo by Diana Tyszko.

The Department of Mathematics is sharing everything there is to know about the field of math through four different camps this summer.

“We love showing how math is a rich and beautiful field,” says Pamela Brittain, outreach and special projects coordinator. “Plus, this gives us a way to demonstrate all the different areas of math that can be studied.”

Students in grades four to 10 can enjoy a week-long Summer Math Kangaroo Camp, which boasts hands-on activities such as scavenger hunts around the University of Toronto campus to discover math properties in the world, magic tricks and problem solving.

The Canadian National Camp, a joint-effort with the Canadian Mathematics Society (CMS), is for students in grades seven to 10 from across Canada and helps prepare them for the Canadian and International Math Olympiads.

Another exciting venture is the one-week Science Unlimited camp, run jointly by the math, earth sciences, astronomy, chemistry, physics and computer science departments. Grade 10 and 11 students are introduced to the different scientific disciplines through a variety of activities and lab experiences. This year, they’re learning about Combinational Game Theory, which focuses on how games can be played in different ways and the strategies behind winning them. They’ll discuss the real world applications to this concept.

But the camps aren’t only for students. The Classroom Adventures in Mathematics Program, is for Ontario high school math teachers and helps bring them up to speed on research currently being done by U of T faculty, interesting topics outside of the usual curriculum and helpful lectures on hot button issues such as dealing with students’ math anxiety.

“This program gives resources from U of T that teachers can bring back to their own classes,” says Brittain.

The camps, and other programs provided by the department, could not be offered without the help of U of T students and faculty. Seventy-five undergraduate and graduate students volunteer throughout the year to mark papers, help administer exams, run activities and more. Faculty members are brought in for lectures and lab work – whether its teaching grade seven and eight students about Mobius strips or a lecture to teachers on what students can expect when they leave high school.

“These camps provide experiences that are outside the usual school curriculums. Students leave with a sense of wonderment,” says Brittain. “We show them that if they continue to study math, there are some really incredible things they can learn, jobs they can get and research they can do.”