Epsilon India is a summer camp held to emulate the original Epsilon Camp that has been running in the USA since 2011. So this camp too is held in answer to the following question: What Mathematics exposure is appropriate for the pre-adolescent student showing high promise in Mathematics?
Why Epsilon India?
It is well-documented from research that the capacity of a person to learn will never be greater than during pre-adolescence and adolescence. Afterwards, synapses "exercised" by experience survive and are strengthened, while others are pruned away. Genes, childhood experiences, and the environment in which a young person reaches adolescence all shape behavior and affinities.
In accord with the above purpose, the mission of Epsilon India, after Epsilon Camp in the USA, is the following:
Epsilon India connects precocious children to professional Mathematics and builds a supportive community with peers and families.
An easy and efficient way to lead children already showing a leaning toward Mathematics, or at least neutral attitude to it, is to introduce them to problem solving. And this is easy to do in any school, through an hour a week dedicated to it for interested students. Most students will then latch on to Mathematics. But many would not; Epsilon India Camp is particularly for those students as well as those who are showing interest in problem solving. Also, it is common to have girls who are interested in mathematics lose their interest in pre-adolescent years due to social pressures and family preferences for professions in medicine, IT, and engineering. The values of the camp are the following.
Connecting youth with professional mathematicians
Collegiality instead of competition and comparison
Breadth and depth of the field rather than acceleration
The end result of the camp is that the student leaves camp with a greater excitement for Mathematics.
Brief history of the camp
Epsilon Camp, named after the famous habit of the famous 20th century problemist, Paul Erdos, to call little children Epsilon, began in the USA in 2011, with the first camp in 2012 in Colorado Springs. The camp venue has not been the same from summer to summer, but the locale is preferably scenic, far from crowded areas and no more than 100 kms from an international airport.
Validation in America
Epsilon camp is one of the success stories in America. Based on the metrics of student and parent satisfaction as well as the academic trajectory of students after camp, Epsilon Camp has become a fixture in the early training of children inclined to Mathematics in the USA. The thinking of the founder has been validated. That is, just as children showing early interest and ability in sports or music flourish in them with early training, those in Mathematics would too. This is why the slogan of the camp is Bright and Early.
Epsilon India – a camp similar to Epsilon Camp in the USA
As of 2019, India has a disproportionately large young population for any nation. And that means, the nation has far more children who could be Mathematicians. However, India is one of the nations with a skewed outlook towards careers. Parents push them to choose other hot professions that are more likely to lead to status and good employment. The fact is that Mathematics when pursued in earnest also brings status and good employment. The fact is also that a Mathematician is one of the most respected in the world.
Many factors have contributed to the parent pursuit of hot professions like medicine, IT, and engineering. Prospect of almost-guaranteed high salary after a few years is the main factor. The longer time period to become a Mathematician, starting salaries that are far lower as compared to those in the three hot professions, and fewer children showing high promise in Mathematics, have made Mathematics a career non-choice in India. As a result, children showing high promise in Mathematics are lost to Mathematics. Consequently, Mathematics has been suffering in India. This is clearly seen on the one hand in the small number of research articles from India in international mathematics journals and in the dismal quality of most PhD theses, except from a few mathematics centres, in India.
To address the Mathematics predicament in India, urgent action is needed. One is to operate maths circles which are small groups of mathematically promising children gathering for a couple of hours on Sunday afternoons to spend time with a couple of Mathematicians. The other is to run summer camps.
At this time, 2019, the academic climate in India is for students in general to prepare hard for entrance examinations in the professions. This preparation begins as early as the 10th grade or even earlier. Therefore, Maths circles and camps would be more effective if run for children in earlier grades. It is for this reason that Epsilon Camp which is thriving in the USA is used as a model in India.