This past summer, Albany Area Math Circle veterans Dave Bieber and Markus Salasoo, upperclassmen at Niskayuna High School, designed and ran their own math camp for middle school students in Niskayuna, under the auspices of Niskayuna Community Education.
I asked Dave to write up a description of their experiences to share with other students who might want to do a similar project in the future:
This summer Markus Salasoo and I ran a math camp for middle school students. A dozen really enthusiastic kids registered, and we all had a great time. Each day we explored a different area of mathematics through games, puzzles, and contest problems. Topics included probability, combinatorics, algebra, and geometry.
Each day began with Continuo, a game of teamwork and pattern recognition. This was followed by a lesson on the day's topic, and a number of activities to emphasize the uses of the mathematics taught. Then, following a brief snack break, we did contest math problems in the forms of relays, countdown rounds, and Buzz competitions. Students worked together and individually to solve problems of varying difficulty relating to the math topic of the day. We explored the possibilities of the famous hand shaking problem, both mathematically and as an ice breaker. We solved Monte Hall experimentally, and learned more about probability through the Greedy Pig game and by playing with M&Ms. To accompany other topics, we played modified versions of 24 and Buzz. These games kept everyone engaged and made for a great experience. The students were friendly and seemed to enjoy the camp.
Certainly I hope that the students learned as much as I did from this camp. Preparing lessons and accompanying problems was a great experience, as was teaching the class and working one-on-one with these students. Over the years mentors and coaches have given me opportunities to have fun learning math with others who enjoy it as much as myself. I hope I was able to pass on the gift of the love of learning math.
Thanks to Dave's and Markus' parents, who took turns serving as adult chaperones in order to make the camp possible.
It sounds like a great experience in problem-solving and leadership. Dave is now coaching the Van Antwerp Middle School MATHCOUNTS team.