CAMP 2023 Day 1

This year marks an exciting point in the history of CAMP: the program’s 10th anniversary! Starting today, the CAMPers (some returning, some new) are going to learn about combinatorics – the mathematics of counting and combining things.

First thing this morning, the CAMPers gathered under the staircase in the Reem-Kayden Center to try out a variety of Spot It! games – with themes like Pixar, Minions, Marvel, and Harry Potter. Each box has a deck of circular cards, and each card has a certain number of symbols on it. Any two cards will have exactly one symbol in common, no matter which cards you pick out. There are lots of ways to play, but most groups started with the simple yet highly competitive version: Whoever finds the common symbol first “slaps” the card and gets to take it.

After a quick orientation (and a “Happy Birthday” song for one of our CAMPers), the SINE group started talking about fractions – how to think about fractions as things (like apples or elephants) when considering operations like division of fractions. CAMPers learned that what we’re really doing when we divide 3/4 by 2/3 is put the fractions into a common denominator – 9/12 and 8/12 – then divide 9 pieces into groups of 8 pieces each. You would get one group with a remainder: 8/8 + 1/8 = 9/8.

“If I had 10 apples and I asked you to put 2 oranges into a group, could you do it? No, because apples aren’t oranges.”

“What we really need to do is let go of our predisposed notions and realize that apples ARE oranges.”

Next, they broke into groups to analyze the Spot It! decks: How many cards are there in each deck? How many symbols are there on each card?

Then Frances introduced them to a useful tool: Graphs. In the case of Spot It!, dots represent individual symbols and lines represent the connections between them – the cards they have in common. The CAMPers made graphs with pipe cleaner edges tied together at each node, while others chose to draw them on paper.

In Computer Science class, the SEC group started processing in Java – in other words, getting the computer to draw stuff. They learned about functions like size() (which controls the size of the canvas) and different shapes – for example, ellipse() . Given the function ellipse(100, 100, 50, 30); , the CAMPers were asked to “vote” on the following question: Where on the screen will the ellipse appear, and why? Next, they were given a coding challenge: Create a canvas of 800 by 800, then draw 4 ellipses, one at the center of each quadrant. Finally, they learned to use the rect() function to create – you guessed it – a rectangle and figured out the function to change the color of a shape.

After class, the CAMPers split up into groups, each with a fun elective to try: learning to juggle with Japheth, trying out pencil-and-paper puzzles like “Star Battle”, and learning how to solve a Rubik’s Cube with CS instructor Shiven. The CAMPers had a lot of fun with indoor activities, even though a thunderstorm was brewing outside.

After lunch, the CSC group had Computer Science class, where they learned about converting numbers to binary – the language of computers.

Meanwhile, the SEC group went to Art class to start brainstorming symbols for their own personalized Spot It! decks.

Finally, the CAMPers reconvened in the auditorium for a “math fair” of games, activities, and puzzles to choose from: paper puzzles, Rubik’s Cubes, Set, and of course, Spot It!

The first day of CAMP’s 10th year was full of fun puzzles, new challenges, and lots of laughs! Using their creativity to answer questions as they come up will set a great foundation for their explorations on Day 2.