Math Corps Summer Camp is the centerpiece of the Math Corps. This six-week program serves a total of approximately 400 middle and high school students. Using a “kids teaching kids” model, the high school students serve as teaching assistants for the younger students. About fifty college students, most of whom are often former Math Corps kids themselves, work as instructors and mentors. The students are broken into teams with each team having ten middle school students, five high school teaching assistants (TA’s) and one college student (CI) at the head. The CI’s and TA’s not only serve as teachers and role models for the middle school kids, but as essentially “big brothers” and “big sisters”. Students receive math instruction in both the basics and advanced topics, while being immersed in a culture of support and achievement. As a “lifetime” program, where students return year after year from seventh grade through college, the Math Corps is a social system, complete with its own culture and serving as a force for change.
Every student in the camp takes two math classes: one in the basics (ex: arithmetic, algebra, pre-calculus, and calculus) and one on advanced topics (ex: infinite series, fractals, logic and proof, and transfinite set theory). In the basic courses, students strengthen their math fundamentals, filling in gaps that they may have and pushing their conceptual understanding to ensure that their current mathematical knowledge supports their learning in future math classes. The advanced math courses are designed to do more than challenge students—they are meant to build their character strengths and cultivate habits and mindsets that build confidence in the present and are essential to success in the future. In these courses, students grapple with mathematical thinking and explore the beauty and power of mathematics, while developing a powerful growth mindset that will carry their success in math classes and other academic areas for the rest of their lives. In addition, the middle school students attend STEM-based afternoon activities each day, such as “Weird Science,” “GPS Technology,” and “Robotics.”
Along with these courses, students receive 2-to-1 tutoring and mentorship support by the high school TA’s during an hour-long “team time,” which features a variety of activities, including work on advanced topics, group problem-solving and mathematical games. TA’s take a data-driven approach to students, providing personalized tutoring in order to best support their students. Every session includes the high school students reviewing the basics with the middle school students, and in particular, the homework assignment that the middle school students are about to submit. Above all, “team time” promotes bonding between the students, wherein big brother/big sister relationships between younger and older students flourish.