Some Thoughts About Math Camp 2001

In many ways our second year of Math Camp was more successful than our first. We listened to the students who attended last year and implemented many of their suggestions. Most of this year's presentations were hands-on activities that allowed the students to interact directly with the material. We didn't include as many topics this year; sometimes "less is better." Professors David Rusin, Buck Stephen, and Alan Zollman each gave two presentations at Math Camp and graduate students Marcia Lack and Tim Huber spent a morning discussing making and breaking secret codes. The counselors, Geoff Apel, Dan Frobish, and Marcia Lack did a great job escorting the campers to the various activities and seeing that they had something to do or to think about. (Our plan was to wear them out, so they'd have less opportunity to get into trouble; unfortunately, this plan also wore us out as well.) Because of all the complaints last year about dorm food, we allowed the campers to eat lunch in one of the fast food restaurants near campus such as McDonald's, Burger King, Village Inn Pizza, or Subway, as long as they went in a group and told us where they were going. Given the freedom to eat lunch on their own, most of the campers ended up eating lunch in the residence hall dining room. I think they just wanted to participate in the noon Bocce Ball Tournament run by Geoff.

The field trip to Argonne National Laboratory was a major success. Thanks to Prof. Christine Hurlburt and her friend, Paul, we were able to visit the Virtual Reality Cave, a one million dollar room used mainly for research. They told us that they limit the number of tours of the VRC to about two per month. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest, one camper rated the Argonne tour as a 6. Flying over mountains and oceans and cities is really cool!

The students came from a wide variety of backgrounds. One camper flew in from California, another came from St. Louis. Forty percent were women and twenty percent were from a minority group. They ranged in age from 13 to 17 and they seemed to get along very well together and perhaps form some lasting friendships.

Our only concern is that the number of students went dowm from 16 students last last year to 10 this year. WE NEED MORE STUDENTS! Please help us to spread the word about next years' Math Camp 2002. If you know any high school students who would benefit from Math Camp next year, talk to them or their parents. The cost is a little over $400 and includes a 5 day stay in Grant Tower, all meals, T-shirts, prizes, two nights in the Rec Center and Huskie Den, the field trip, and much more. A limited amount of financial support is available. WE NEED MORE MONEY! A fund has been established exclusively for Math Camp. If you would like to donate to the NIU Math Camp Fund we will see that all of the money you give is used to help bring a child to camp. Donations can be sent directly to the NIU Foundation and you should specify that the money is to go to the Math Department specifically for Math Camp. Our website is www.niu.edu/~richard/Mcamp/ and you can email directly mathcamp@math.niu.edu.