The CSU Department of Mathematics took Math Circles on the road this year to Sterling, Colorado. Credit: Northeastern Junior College communications
The Colorado State University Department of Mathematics’ Math Circles summer camp expanded its reach in Colorado this year.
The popular weeklong summer camp is held on the CSU campus every year and is led primarily by math graduate students. Through interactive activities and exposure to college-level math concepts, Math Circles gives local middle and high school students a window into how mathematics plays critical roles in science, technology, engineering and art.
For the first time this year, Math Circles also went on the road, bringing a portion of the program to eastern Colorado, in an effort to reach more students across the state who cannot attend the Fort Collins-based camp.
Earlier this year, CSU’s Northeastern Engagement Center facilitated a connection between Professor Michael Kirby and the town of Sterling, to embed Math Circles in an existing summer program called Kids College. Kids College is an annual educational outreach program led by Northeastern Junior College.
CSU math graduate students Emily Heavner, Justin O’Connor and Patrick Rosse organized two Math Circles classes, for grades 6-8 and grades 3-5, on June 13 as part of Kids College. Six additional CSU students also served as volunteer teachers: graduate students Rebecca Afandi, Dean Bisogno, Peter Christman, Brian Collery and Levi Heath; and undergraduate Jack Currie. Earlier this spring, Kirby and some of the CSU students traveled to three Sterling-area schools to promote the new Math Circles offerings. They hope they can expand to other areas of the state in coming years.
“I think it was great to get out there and show kids what opportunities there are,” Rosse said.
CSU graduate student and Math Circles volunteer Brian Collery used the card game Set to teach the campers about set theory. Credit: Northeastern Junior College communications
Connecting with students
Heavner said she first realized she wanted to be a math major when she herself was in middle school. That’s why she wanted to get involved with Math Circles, and to connect with younger students.
“I like the idea of introducing math concepts beyond what you see in a K-12 setting,” she said.
During Kids College, the Math Circles students were led through interactive sessions, one of which involved making and shooting bottle rockets. Other activities included an introduction to set theory – a concept typically taught in a 200-level math class – by playing the card game Set. The students also learned about exponential functions, as well as game theory.
The week following the classes in Sterling, the traditional Math Circles hosted 46 students on the CSU campus.
Forty-six campers attended Math Circles in Fort Collins this year.