Tuesday, August 23, 2016

CAMP Day 1

Hello everyone! So Monday marked the first day for the Bard Math Circle CAMP of 2016!! On the very first day of our exciting mathematical journey we jumped quickly into our explorations of fractals!

The day started with a game that involved team work and communication: the catch, we could not use our voices. Everyone received a card from a normal playing deck that we placed on our foreheads without looking at the card and then were instructed to try to line up in order based on card value or the suit of the cards. There was some phenomenal team work happening with this group of students who were able to create nearly perfect lineups in very little time. After that morning activity, we went on to play a few rounds of human knot in which the students stood in groups of even numbers and grasped hands of other group members to form our very own human knots. Then we observed the patterns that occurred while trying to untangle each of the human knots!

In math class we first learned about places in nature where we can find fractal-like compositions: trees, clouds, lungs, and more! Then we transitioned into learning about planar transformations; we learned about scaling, translating, rotating, and reflecting! And we all figured out how to apply those transformations to the Cartesian coordinates of an irregular figure that looked like the silhouette of an abstract tent with a tree behind it. 

And in computer science we figured out some code that would have the computer draw this same abstract shape for us! The program used to do this is NetLogo, and we learned how to manipulate what are called turtles to move around the screen for us and draw different shapes. To do this we learned a bit about the different ways to control turtles in NetLogo and even figured out how to create our own commands! Some students were able to finish the task early and then went on to explore the different turtle properties and how to manipulate them using local variables.

Also on this very exciting first day, our mathematicians took some time to be artists as well! We learned how to make vibrant and beautiful fractal prints using a technique called marbling. Paper marbling is an ancient tradition and skill where pigment floats on water and the transfer of the surface information onto paper is both unexpected and mirrors the fractal patterns that naturally occur in water. 

To end our day on the beautiful Bard campus, we all came back together in the auditorium of the RKC building for a fun game of C.A.M.P. Jeopardy. This was a little different from your normal jeopardy game show with the normal monetary prizes replaced by the ever more sought after space stickers and Bard math pencils! There was also a little more running around than normal Jeopardy done by our whole staff: high school volunteers, teaching assistants, coordinators, teachers and all could be seen rushing to each group to check their work as our student mathematicians worked at lightning speed to solve each conundrum presented to them. And after a long day of math our day came to an end as everyone returned home to reflect on all of the awesome math and fun that we experienced throughout that eventful first day!

-Meagan (with some help from other Math CAMP friends)