Splendid Kids, AwesomeMath
Numbers-Savvy Youths From Around the Globe Attend UT Dallas Summer Camp
July 18, 2008
More than 120 pre-college students from countries worldwide will spend part of their summer scrawling complex math formulas across whiteboards on the campus of UT Dallas.
Students from seventh through 12th grade are attending the AwesomeMath Summer Program, a competitive and highly intensive camp that runs through Aug. 3. The students come from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, Romania, Canada and across the United States to hone their problem-solving skills and meet with other math enthusiasts.
Dr. Titu Andreescu
It took an auditorium to hold the AwesomeMath Summer Program (AMSP) students at the recent orientation. Associate Professor and AwesomeMath Director Titu Andreescu introduced Dr. Bryan H. Wildenthal, executive vice president and provost, and Dr. Robert Hilborn, professor and program head of Science/Mathematics Education in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
“I am confident you will remember these weeks the rest of your life,” said Wildenthal. “You will have learned a lot and met your peers from all over the country and the world.”
Math whizzes are among an elite group of students in Texas secondary schools. In the 2007 State Snapshot Report issued by The National Assessment of Educational Progress, roughly half of the fourth- and eighth-graders in Texas performed at the “basic” math level. A third were graded as “proficient,” while less than 10 percent were considered “advanced.”
AwesomeMath aims to raise math proficiency in Texas and around the world. The growing popularity of the program is attributed to the preparation students get to compete successfully at Math Olympiad events.
“I’ve been interested in math since the third grade, said Matt Mayers, senior high school student at New Jersey’s Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology. “Summertime is usually wasted time, so I wanted to spend the time getting ready for competitions and meeting new people.”
Andreescu opened the AMSP orientation with an obvious enthusiasm toward the roomful of bright young minds for whom math is more than just a required course — it’s a passion.
“This camp continues to grow in prestige and attracts better and better students from all over the world,” Andreescu said. “Our goal is to expand your mathematical horizons by introducing you to problems and concepts that are outside the scope of anything you’ll see at school.”
Students start their day with breakfast at 8 followed by lectures and problem sessions. The afternoons pick up after lunch with more lectures and problem sessions followed by dinner, a mathematics forum and optional recreational activities around campus. AwesomeMath students live on campus and spend their free time playing chess, tennis, volleyball and swimming. Although there’s plenty of time for recreation, and even a day at Six Flags on occasion, the camp centers on the pursuit of math excellence.
“It’s good to see kids who are so passionate about learning and broadening their horizons — and math is such an important subject to learn,” said Emily Herzig, a UT Dallas graduate student assisting with AwesomeMath.
The hundred-plus students attending AMSP completed an application that included two letters of recommendation (one from a math teacher, one personal) and the completed admission test, which includes such questions as, “What is the maximum number of knights you can place on a chessboard so that none is attacking another?”
To learn more about AwesomeMath, visit www.awesomemath.org.