STEM

Texas A&M SMaRT Camp Is Back

After a two-year hiatus, Texas A&M University's SMaRT Camp for high school math students is back.

The very popular Summer Mathematics Research Training (SMaRT) Camp organized by the College Station, TX university math department lost its funding after 2013, but, with the financial support of the Texas A&M math department and small grants from the American Mathematical Society, Mathematical Association of America and the Texas A&M Office for Diversity, it's back.

Advanced high school students from all over the world attended the two-week summer camp in late June — free of charge — and not only indulged their own passions for mathematics, but learned research skills that helped them delve into topics like numbers theory, cryptography and computer architecture.

"There are many camps like this around the country," said Texas A&M Math Professor Peter Kuchment, who founded the camp six years ago, "but they cost a lot to attend. So, to have it back and still free, it was happiness."

The students, some of whom came from as far away as Hawaii, spent all two weeks on campus.

"We try to teach them how to do real research, not soundbite math problems," Kuchment said. "We find an area where we can start from scratch and move on to very advanced topics within two weeks."

Every morning started out with a lecture by Oksana Shatalov, another Texas A&M math professor and camp co-director. The students then separated into smaller study groups led by counselors who were undergraduate and graduate students. They recapped each day's material in great detail and assisted campers with homework assignments. Other Texas A&M professors dropped in for guest lectures on math topics as well.

Saturdays were known as "Saturday Celebrations" in which exams designed to test students on the week's lessons were given. No grades were given and exams were merely marked with comments designed to guide students to how to find the correct answers themselves.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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