High school and middle school students who are mathematically inclined will be able to attend Honors Summer Math Camp.
The camp, hosted by Texas Mathworks at Texas State, continues thanks to a $15,000 grant awarded by the American Mathematical Society Epsilon Fund.
The AMS Epsilon Fund is awarded to 10 programs in the nation. This is the ninth year the camp has received the grant. Other programs that have received the grant include the Research Science Institute at MIT and Stanford University Mathematics Camp.
“It is a huge honor, and yet I think that is a reflection of the fact we reach out probably more than any program in the country to have a diverse group,” said Max Warshauer, Texas Mathworks founder, director and Texas State faculty member. “We have Hispanic, black, Asian, white — all students from every kind of background from all over the world.”
Program specialist Andrew Hsiau said receiving the Epsilon fund along with other grant money helps attract students to the camp.
“There are a lot of students excited about math and learning, but they may not be able to afford summer camps,” Hsiau said. “Having this scholarship funding is crucial. We can tell students, ‘even though you can’t afford the camp, it’s not a problem.’”
Honors Summer Math Camp is a six-week program teaching 30 math students with 15 experienced undergraduate counselors utilizing Texas State’s math department faculty.
“There is no other program at Texas State, in fact no other program in the state that brings the same level of students as this program,” Warshauer said. “Our average SAT in math is the same as Harvard or Caltech. We are bringing in the top students to work with our faculty on doing real research projects. Students can go off to any program in the country.”
Warshauer said campers grow tremendously throughout the six-week program.
“By the end of the camp they question why problems work and take risks, they are willing to work independently,” Warshauer said. “The growth is phenomenal.”
Alana Rosenwasser, mathematic education doctoral student at Texas State and past math camp participant and counselor, said the program gave her goals.
“HSMC is very unique in that it teaches you to think about mathematics in a way that you aren’t really exposed to in high school and even college for many people,” Rosenwasser said. “It teaches you to think more carefully and more deeply about mathematics in general. I wouldn’t like math as much as I do if it weren’t for that way of thinking. I think it really opened my eyes to the beauty of mathematics.”
Karen Vaszquez, a middle school teacher, Texas State alumna, and former participant and counselor said the experience sparked her interest in becoming a teacher. She tries to use the same teaching techniques she learned from the program in her classroom.
“HSMC showed me math was more than plugging in a formula. Math has exploration, it has depth and creativity attached to it,” Vazquez said. “Education does not have to be boring.”
Warshauer said the same Texas State faculty has been teaching together at the camp for 20 years.
“HSMC offers this commitment and consistency of faculty working with students,” Warshauer said. “It’s not like they teach a course and then leave, they work with the students at night, on weekends and see them at different activities and settings. The faculty goes way beyond the call of duty in what they do.”
Terry McCabe, Texas State and HSMC faculty member, said he loves wrong answers.
“It doesn’t matter if the problem is right or wrong,” McCabe said. “I value the exploration of the problem.”
Warshauer hopes for a future in financial stability for Mathworks.
“We are now entering a legacy campaign to sustain this program as a national treasure,” Warshauer said. “It is important to get funding for the program, which is why it’s so critical we raise endowment so we can always make sure students can come no matter what their background is financially.”
Mathworks goal is to achieve a $6 million endowment fund to permanently sustain Mathworks.
“The future I see is leaving this program much better than we ever found it, and leaving it is something that sets a tradition for Texas State and for the state for what we can do in education and inspire future generations,” Warsauer said.