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First edition of Math camp: Making math easier, one scoop at a time

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Published on Monday, 21 September 2020

The Department of Mathematics (DMATH) at the University of Luxembourg organised the first Math camp between 31 August and 10 September 2020 on Belval campus as well as online. The camp aimed at offering a mathematical warm up to first year students to ease the transition between high school and university. It was arranged in two independent weeks: the Boot camp and the Prep camp.

More than a hundred Uni.lu first year students from different fields, such as mathematics, engineering, physics and computer science, participated in this first edition of the Math camp. The different sessions and courses were taught in small groups, in French and English, but individualised teaching was also given in German. Some of them took place onsite, on Belval campus, while others were held online.

The first week was dedicated to the Boot camp, a brand new concept developed this year by Hugo Parlier and Bruno Teheux, which consisted in a refresher/get in math shape quickly type initiative. In the mornings, the students worked in small groups, using a hands-on based approach to high school level mathematics under the supervision of specially trained math professors. Afternoons were dedicated to Math Forge sessions (peer tutoring) and icebreaker events.
The objective of the Boot camp was to review or familiarise students with concepts and techniques, focusing on those that will be used throughout their university curriculum.

“I was thrilled by the investment of the participants, who put a lot of energy into preparing for their return to university from a mathematical perspective”, explains Bruno Teheux. “Thanks to the coaching in small groups, everyone was able to progress at their own pace.”

“The boot camp was the main novelty this year and students were extremely grateful for the opportunity”, comments Hugo Parlier. “Most of the students of Boot camp came from different programmes (Bachelor in Computer Science, Bachelor in Applied Information Technology and Bachelor in Mathematics) and it was really nice to have them “mingle” (while respecting social distancing of course).”

The second week of the Math camp, called Prep camp, served as both a refresher on high school level mathematics, from the perspective of a university curriculum, and an introduction to concepts that students will be using during their bachelor studies. Supervised by Ivan Nourdin, this second camp gave the students the opportunity to follow courses given by Uni.lu professors, as well as to join Math Forge sessions and social events.

“I am very happy with the great success of the Prep camp. It was an excellent springboard between high school and university for the students. Given the current health situation, we obviously had to juggle face-to-face and online courses, rotating among the students. It took a lot of upstream work (and I thank the team that surrounded me for the efficiency and the time spent), but this experience was very useful for the forthcoming semester”, confides Ivan Nourdin.

At the end of the Math camp, the students could take part in a giant interactive quiz, called Astigmath, which provided them with responses to many questions that one can have on mathematics: What is math for? How does mathematics interact with other sciences? What are the mathematical problems of the century? etc.

Some of the participants testified:

“I would definitely recommend the Math camp to every new student at the University of Luxembourg. It was a great way to catch up with my mathematics knowledge and it helped me to ease the start of the academic year.”

“I would like to thank all professors for their classes. They not only helped me to get back into math but also to acquire new knowledge.”

In view of the success of the event, the second edition of the Math camp will take place next August-September 2021, before the start of the upcoming academic year. “Although it worked well, the circumstances of this first edition made it difficult to plan. For instance, we were not able to do the planned social and group building activities, which are an integral part of our concept. We are looking forward to organising the second edition in happier times”, concludes Hugo Parlier.

Picture: ©Laure Diederich