Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

Summer@IMSA: Math Camps

August 1, 2010

Students admire geometric models built in Dr. Matsko's polyhedra class.

Hosted by the Kids Institute, two week-long residential summer camps were held at IMSA this July for middle school students interested in math. The first, Math at IMSA, was taught by math faculty Dr. Vince Matsko and Dr. Noah Prince, while the second, Extreme Math and Science at IMSA, was taught by science faculty member Branson Lawrence and math faculty Dr. Noah Prince.

First up for the summer was Math at IMSA, which ran July 19 to 23. In that camp, Dr. Matsko taught the middle schoolers about Platonic solids and polyhedra, as students learned to construct geometric models and think about higher-dimensional figures. Dr. Prince introduced his classes to game theory, where they learned how to play Nim, explored the Prisoner's Dilemma, and used payoff matrices to compute optimal strategies to toy games.

Campers test game theoretic strategies in Dr. Prince's class.

The second camp, Extreme Math and Science, ran July 26 to 30. It was limited to upcoming high school freshmen and offered a fully integrated math and science curriculum. In the science component of the camp, students built model cars, used technology to measure forces and velocities, and examined the physics of rocket flight. The math component of the course complimented the science, covering topics from trigonometry as well as differential and integral calculus. By the end of the camp, the students could use their newly-learned math to compute the path of a rocket parametrically from launch to landing. The culmination of the week was when students built and launched rockets of their own design.

The Extreme Math and Science Camp launches their self-designed rockets.

"Teaching these camps really is a highlight of my year," said Dr. Prince. "The students have so much energy and enthusiasm, so every day I am excited to come talk to them about math."

For more information about these camps, consult the Summer@IMSA webpage.

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