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Math Camp Ignites Students' Mathematical Thinking

Our first-ever summer Math Camp immersed 128 middle school students from across Southern California in a week of math fun and game-based learning. 

Held at Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center, the camp aimed to engage tweens in fun activities that revealed how math is all around us in the world. “It was was just like solving a puzzle," said eighth grader David Rodriguez at the end of camp. "It was easy!"

David and his fellow campers used probability, strategy and working memory while playing ancient math games; learned polar coordinates while pretending to be zombies in the game Polarized; explored knot theory by getting tangled and untangled on the Ropes Course; experienced speed while ziplining across a valley; practiced number fluency using their entire bodies to jump around a giant number grid in Hop to It, and much more.

"It was nice hearing them at the end of the day talking about what they did," said Maricela Vallejo, the mom of an eighth grader who signed up for math camp along with two longtime friends. "It wasn’t just the math aspect, they got so much more out of it than what we anticipated.”

Each afternoon, students worked on their "Master Math Project" in one of four categories: Math Moves, Natural Math, Beauty of Math, and Math Clan Games. On the last day of camp, students showcased their projects for friends, family and camp sponsors at Community Day.

"When we told people we were doing a Math Camp, they told us we need to change the name," Matthew Peterson, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of MIND Research Institute told the crowd of 300 gathered at Community day. "We’re not changing the name because we’re trying to change the perception of what math is. We don’t want people to shy away from a 'math camp.'"

MIND Research Institute's first-ever Math Camp was presented by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. Corporate partners who helped make the camp possible include Microsemi, Capital Group, Fluor Foundation, OC Register, American Honda Foundation, Students from low-income families were eligible for fully-funded "Camperships" thanks to the generosity of the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, Schools First Federal Credit Union and Dr. Art McCoy.

Math Camp is part of MathMINDs, a movement to shift the cultural perception of math from being scary and frustrating to exciting and essential. MathMINDs engages the community and students in hands-on mathematical experiences outside of the classroom. To learn more and join the movement, sign up for MathMINDs updates!

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Maria Cervantes

About the Author

Maria Cervantes is the Community Partnerships Director at MIND Research Institute. Find her on Twitter @magucervantes1.


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