Since the summer of 2016, Duke University – well known for its beautiful architectures – organized a math summer camp for junior girls. It’s a nine day workshop where anyone from the U.S. and Canada is qualified to apply. In order to increase female participation in math, anonymous sponsors and the Department of Math in Duke University are gathering high school students throughout the nation.
During their nine days at Duke, participants are introduced to graduate and undergraduate formulas, problem solving skills, and proofs. In addition, they are assigned into groups and are required to do group projects regarding the topic that they have learned at the camp, which will be broadcasted live on camera. Yet, the highlight of this program is that everything is financially covered by the sponsors and therefore, leaves no monetary burden on participants.
From June 19th to 29th, 2018, the Third Annual SWiM was held. As one of participants myself, a junior living in California, the program sponsored not only the meals and education but also the flight ticket to arrive at Duke. Eighteen female students from both the U.S. and Canada gathered at Duke University to further develop their math skills and to learn more about the campus itself: some students were from California, Texas, New Jersey, Canada, Arizona, New York, etc.. When they applied, they were required to solve three problems issued by the program and submit their responses along with teacher recommendation letters, a cover letter, and other personal information.
The program constituted of lectures given by professors and graduate students at Duke University, North Carolina State University, and University of North Carolina. They learned about topics like Gauss-Bonnet Theorem, probability, and number theory. For the group project, the students learned about graph theory and knot theory and had to choose one out of eight projects to present.
Composed of both education and entertainment, SWiM offered a lifetime opportunity for junior girls to develop a deeper affection towards learning and provided an idea of college life before their senior year. Shaylee Boger, one of the participants from Texas, noted that she developed a greater understanding of math in that “math wasn’t just 2D and 3D and that not everything in math had numerical meaning.” She also appreciated Duke University for hosting such a wonderful camp that “assisted [her] to apply [herself] in previously unknown ways [in math].”
Thanks to SWiM, I have a deeper understanding of math and was able to approach math in creative ways that I haven’t thought of before. Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether the program will continue in 2019; yet, the program encourages female students to take greater participation in math.
Seunghyeon Shim, Grade 12
West Ranch High School