Saturday, July 12, 2008

Summer camps

We didn't really have summer camps when I was growing up. At least not thematic ones. We'd go to the seaside with teachers, but I don't recall doing any work. Today is my last day in math camp and in Portland, OR. I'm teaching a class on Banach Tarski paradox (take an orange, cut it up into finitely many pieces, rearrange them and make two oranges of sizes equal to the original one; or if you'd like do the same to pea and rearrange the pieces to make a ball size of the sun). Anyhow, with years I kinda grew to appreciate and like nerds. But as I was telling Mark, some of these kids take the nerdyness to a whole new level. The phrase I used was "of cosmic proportions". I thought it hilarious that to the question "Where in California are you from" this kid answered "Stanford". The class has been fun. It's pretty small, and some of these kids are super bright. Not only have they been totally following what's going on, but they have been coming up with some great ideas and picking up things they've never seen before with an amazing speed (I only gave 3 lectures so far, and we have one left). Others are undoubtedly also bright, but I can't tell because they don't talk. Even here there were 2 who refused to get up to the board.

There are several classes running simultaneously, and most teachers teach only one class a day and hold two hours of office hours. Whenever I went to anything mathy we'd do math during the day, and then hang out in the evenings. Not the practice here. The only people I hung out with were the kids during my class and my office hours! Nobody proposed any gathering (some talk of it last night, but then nothing happened), nor even asked me what I was doing and if I wanted to do anything. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't sitting in my terrible room being sad and lonely, but to be honest, I don't think I'll repeat this experience. Not because of the kids, but time has passes when all I wanted to do was do math, especially in a place I've never been before.