University of Arizona Summer Mathematics Camp
(1986 – 2007)
The University of Arizona Summer Mathematics Camp was created so that mathematically talented middle school students could have the chance to directly experience research mathematics. This is done through the use of “exploratory problems”, problems that allow for the freedom to explore and create mathematics without the threat of an immediate answer. (Refer to the book by Frederick Stevenson, Exploratory Problems in Mathematics, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1992, for examples of mathematical exploration.) The annual two-week camp is held in mid-July. After a short course with computers the students are introduced to several exploratory problems and asked to team up into groups and work on a problem of their choice. They work for seven days, write up their findings, and give an oral presentation to their colleagues, interested parents, teachers, and guests from the Department of Mathematics. On the last day, each student receives a booklet containing the results of their colleague's research activities.
Students who apply to the University of Arizona Summer Mathematics Camp must be recent graduates of the eighth grade. They are selected on the basis of a seven question test and a teacher recommendation. Sixteen students are selected from dozens of applicants from throughout the country. The students stay in a campus dormitory and do their work in the Department of Mathematics at the University. Each student has access to IBM compatible computers, hands-on equipment from the University of Arizona mathematics education laboratory, and other equipment from the Department of Mathematics. Two faculty members and two graduate student chaperons are in charge of the students. Participants are charged $250 which approximates the room and board cost to the program.
Primary funding for University of Arizona Summer Mathematics Camp comes from local foundations through the University of Arizona Foundation, a funding arm of the University. Program expenses include student room and board, instructor and counselor salaries, computer resources, publicity, supplies, and accommodating students needing financial aid.