out-of-school-programs for gifted students in grades 7 and 8 have existed for many years. They identified the students and placed them in suitable summer programs. Johns Hopkins University and Duke University have been leaders in the endeavor. Typically they chose students who were in the top 0.5%, 2% and the like from nationally recognized achievement tests.
George Rubin Thomas,
a former college professor and then Executive Director of
Mathcamp, one of the leading summer programs for mathematically talented high school students, saw the need for an intense program similar to Mathcamp but designed for students rising in grades 6 through 8. He recognized that, as in music, training suited to the very gifted should be provided at an early age. He saw that such training must go beyond the narrow focus at standard programs for the gifted and talented, and have a balanced approach to the several aspects of mathematical development of the high IQ young student, more balance than can be achieved at problem-solving-focus workshops in the various countries. He first proposed the idea to two fellow mathematicians with whom he ran Mathcamp. They said they did not have the time to be involved in yet another camp and that Thomas could start one if he liked. Starting a large national summer program is financially risky. Thomas, not wanting to jeopardise Mathcamp, struck out on his own. He discussed the idea with many mathematicians, and educators of gifted students. Among those were John Conway of Princeton University and Titu Andreescu, then Executive Director of the American Mathematics Competitions. The encouragement he received prompted him to consult the parents of the very gifted. Their strong endorsement pushed the launch of this summer workshop. The name Mathpath was suggested by Professor John Conway. From the first camp in 2002, Conway has taught at the program. The quality of the program was helped immensely by Professors Stephen Maurer, who joined the program in 2003, and Paul Zeitz, who joined in 2004.
The program is dedicated to nurturing emerging mathematical talent by providing a month-long summer gathering place - a place that has the highest residential standards, instructional programs suited to the extremely gifted, and developmental opportunities, both academic and social.
It was found that a suitable location for a program for the highly gifted young students would benefit from proximity to nature as well as opportunities for weekend trips. Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota, was selected as a suitable campus for the first camp.
The thrust of the program is four-fold: Teach how to write in mathematics, inculcate the importance of proof, familiarize the heuristics of problem solving, and provide a unified view of mathematics and its culture through its historical development. Some of the world's top experts who educate the brightest young students would teach at Mathpath.
MathPath is now a non-profit organization run by a team of mathematicians and high school and middle school teachers of students gifted in mathematics. Thus, as happened to its sibling program
Mathpath too passed on to the mathematics community.