CMC Saturday and Sunday
On Saturday, July 26th U of T’s Department of Mathematics welcomed 24 students into Canada Math Camp! Saturday was dedicated to meeting and welcoming the students, as well as relaxing before the intense and exciting week of learning. Students entertained each other by playing musical instruments, solving Rubik’s Cubes and demonstrating card tricks. It is clear that all of the students are talented in more than just mathematics! On Sunday, after breakfast in their beautiful dining hall, the intense work has begun. The students aced the preliminary test, learned the basics of the set theory and combinatorics along with complex theorems of geometry. After the classes were over the students had a chance to play sports outside. Sunday night was stormy. The students were watching a movie or playing games. Some of them, however, were so carried away by the math concepts learned during the day that they continued discussing them with instructors until the bedtime.
Every morning the CMC students are exposed to new mathematics concepts presented by guest lecturers – U of T faculty and graduate students. Although the topics of guest lectures can be difficult to grasp at first try, the students have been enjoying the exposure to new ideas. CMC campers learned more geometry and explored the intricacies of proofs by induction through solving the Towers of Hanoi puzzle and its variations. On Monday night the campers went on a U of T campus tour. They especially enjoyed standing at the Meridian of Toronto, exploring the shape of the Robarts Library and walking down the small alleys of the oldest parts of the campus. The rest of the night was dedicated to discussion of math problems and games.
Today CMC campers were impressed by the talk of Prof. Bar-Natan on symmetry. Students were especially impressed by the fact that various symmetries and patterns that are interesting from scientific and mathematical point of view can be found in objects they are used to seeing in their everyday life as well as in art – for instance, in patterns on clothing, architecture, maps, etc. Then guest lecturer Jordan Bell talked to the students about convex functions and Jensen’s inequality. Most campers were not familiar with this topic before. Nevertheless, they were captivated by the new ideas and asked the lecturer numerous follow-up questions. The night was stormy and unsuitable for playing outside so the students spend their free time learning math concepts behind various board games, as well as playing the game of Mafia.
Originally Wednesday was reserved for a trip to the Toronto Island, but the weather forecast promised a severe thunder storm, so the trip needed to be postponed till Thursday. In the morning the students listened to two guest lectures. The entire afternoon was dedicated to problem solving and review of the previously learned material. The instructors were making sure that all the students’ questions were answered and that everyone was on the same page with the material learned during the previous days. The stormy night kept the campers indoors again, but they spent the night working on problem sets and playing board games.
We were thrilled to wake up to perfect weather for a trip to the Toronto Island! After breakfast the students had time to discuss the problem sets that they started working on yesterday. After an exciting guest lecture, followed by a quick lunch break we headed to the Toronto Island. The students were impressed by the view of Toronto sky line when we took the ferry boat. On the island we settled near the beach. The students got their feet wet, played volleyball and cards. Though some of them could not take their minds off the problem sets that were assigned by their instructors the day before. At 6pm we came back to the city to have a dinner at the Pickle Barrel at Young-Dundas Square. The students enjoyed the food and the atmosphere of the restaurant. After dinner we walked back to the residence. Students from other cities were especially impressed by the view of the CN Tower and the Dundas Square.
Today was the last day of the camp. The entire day was dedicated to the Mock Olympiad. The students had a chance to exercise their individual problem solving skills as well as team work skills. At the end of the day designated speakers from each team presented their solutions to the audience of campers and instructors. The presentations were followed by a banquet where the students were awarded with certificates of participation in the camp and small prizes. The rest of the night was spent at the residence. The students were allowed to go to bed a little later than usual. Many of them made friends and had a lot to discuss after an intense week of learning.
As much as we regret that the camp is over, it is time to part. Many students had to wake up extremely early in order to be on time for their flights. After breakfast the students made sure that their rooms were tidy, finished packing their bags and said goodbye to their new friends. It was a pleasure to meet so many parents of the CMC campers who were just as excited about mathematics as their daughters and sons. We are pleased to say that the camp was successful and the students felt that they learned a lot. We will miss this year’s students, but we have to admit that we can’t wait for the next year’s CMC Camp already!