Advanced Summer Program for students age 11-14
who show high promise and love mathematics


Questions & Answers

Computers and Calculators

1. Are computers and calculators allowed at MathPath? Both our son and our daughter use their laptop computers all the time, and in school they use an advanced graphing and symbolic calculator.

A. Campers are not allowed to bring computers or high-powered calculators. The exception is if the parents state that the student needs them for some special purpose (e.g., a disability such as extremely poor handwriting) and sign a waiver absolving us of responsibility for damage, loss or theft.

Email and the web are available to students at least once a day, so students may not bring their own computer for this purpose.

The reason for our policy is that when, in the first years of the g, we allowed computers and graphics calculators, students used calculators to play action games, including during plenaries. This is mostly a problem with boys (which then in turn makes girls feel left-out) but as a fairness issue, we apply the policy to all campers. Also, many parents have asked us to forbid computers and calculators.

Specifically, electronic games, on computers, calculators, or game machines, are simply not allowed at MathPath. Students have ample math activities at camp. The non-math time is spent in board games, field games, athletics, music, and the like.

The leadership of MathPath is not anti-computer. First, we use our own laptops in running the camp. More important, we recognize that computing can be directly useful in doing mathematics, and conversely mathematics is precisely the tool needed to study the theory of computing. Some of us use computing in doing our own mathematical work.

Furthermore, in summer 2010, for the first time, we will give a breakout course about mathematical explorations one can do with mathematics software. But even for this course, we will use computer facilities on campus, not personal computers.

Note: For the break-out course on Heavenly Mathematics that Glen van Brummelen has given in recent years, a $10 scientific calculator is very helpful. Since this is a very popular course, we recommend that students bring a cheap scientific calculator to camp if they have one.

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