Guest Post: Summer Program in Mathematical Problem Solving

This is a guest post from a friend and all-around-awesome person Dan Zaharopol. I normally don’t use my blog for much more than talking about concrete things in the classroom, and certainly not to promote organizations, but this is something I can’t not help out with. Dan is doing something extraordinary. Read on!


How can we create a realistic pathway for underserved students to become scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and programmers?
That question launched the Summer Program in Mathematical Problem Solving.  You see, my view of mathematics was shaped by the incredible experiences I had outside of school: summer programs, math clubs, math contests and more that gave me access to abstract mathematics.  I felt that creating a way for all kids to get this experience and then shepherding through more programs for advanced study through middle school and high school could finally make it possible for them to succeed at the highest levels.
SPMPS has been hugely successful, and many of our kids have gone on to great high schools and summer programs.  We just finished our third year, and next year we’re opening a second site.  That means we’re looking to double our pool of instructors.  Sam invited me to do a guest post to invite you all to come to our program as faculty, and I hope you will!
The program is an incredible place to work at.  You are invited to create your own classes, on pure topics such as number theory, combinatorics, or logic; or applied topics such as circuit design, astrophysics, and digital communications.  You can also teach a problem solving course.  The students are amazing, and despite the many challenges they face they have a great abilities for abstract reasoning.  They also have a huge hunger for learning: they do seven hours of mathematics per day and they love it!  Some of the results last year include proving the infinitude of primes, solving a challenge problem to determine if it’s possible to put + and – signs between the numbers 1 2 3 … 50 to get 0, constructing a binary adder using AND/OR/NOT gates, and sending an image from one computer to another using sound.
If you want to learn more, take a look at our website and then contact us to get a lot more information and the application itself.  If you’re not interested in coming yourself, please pass it on to someone who might be.  I’d love to tell you more, and hopefully to work with you this summer!

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