Epsilon 2021 CURRICULUM
Daily Schedule and format of the Classes
The day usually started at 7:30 am and went on till 8:15 pm with adequate breaks. Each group had 3 classroom sessions and office hours during which the students worked with each other and also with their student mentors. The office hours allowed for collaborative work between the students, thereby allowing them to further explore the topics that were handled in class. The student mentors guided the discussions and were trained to not provide answers but serve as facilitators. Having young mentors head the office members allowed for even the most introverted camper to open up and work with their fellow classmates. The office hour time eventually led to a social breakthrough for many of the campers hence the camp became more than just an academic experience for the students.
The invited speakers for the guest lectures were usually people from the industry or academia. The purpose of the guest lectures was to introduce the campers to cutting-edge research and technology at a pace and depth that would serve to stretch their imagination and inspire them to embark on a self-study of these topics.
The guest lecture series started with a Study Skills workshop as most of the students struggled with good study habits such as taking notes, articulating their ideas in a written format etc. The technical sessions that followed touched on the areas of Mathematics and Computer Science such as Future of Computing, Colouring, Computer vision and Reinforcement learning, Top 3 Millennium problems in Mathematics, The simple Math that drives the AI Revolution, Conjectures and prime numbers, Partisan Function. There were also fun workshops such as KenKen puzzles and Cubing.
The classroom sessions with the Professors were college lecture style and intense. The curriculum included topics such as Neutral Geometry, Algorithms, Advanced topics in Counting and Number Theory, Methods of Proof, Selected works of Euler, Game theory, Origins of risk in mathematics, Graph theory etc.. The students were asked to complete and submit homework solutions to gauge their understanding. Given that the nature of the homework was such that the student can approach a problem from different perspectives, the TA’s graded the homework and provided individual feedback to the students on the methodology and approach that each student had used.
The camp also included parent workshops that were curated for parents raising gifted children. The parent programs were designed to support parents in nurturing mathematical and social growth in their exceptionally gifted children. Workshops featured a range of speakers including Epsilon Camp faculty, giving a glimpse of camp curriculum. Other topics include educational planning options and strategies and parent topics related to the social/ emotional aspects of raising a gifted child.
The deep and meaningful mathematical interactions between the students and the professors brought out the need for a space such as Epsilon in India for nurturing the scientists and thinkers of tomorrow. The students forged deep connections with like minded peers which is pivotal for their academic and emotional/social growth. The mathematical growth that was witnessed in just these two weeks, emphasised the fact that an early start in Mathematics is beneficial for the child who shows passion and ability and we need a more periodic gathering of such like-minded children, in a setting that stimulates and engages their intellectual and social needs. This is a necessity, if India needs to compete on the global stage with countries such as the USA, Russia etc., where such programs are more ubiquitous. The positive feedback from the parents on the parent workshops also highlighted the need for a supportive and informed community to nurture these unique children.