Maseno Maths Camp

The idea for a mathematics camp developed from the need to create a forum where mathematics could be discussed and explored at the secondary level in such a way to show that there is more to maths than calculations and correct answers. The aim of the camp is to expose young minds to new ideas in mathematics relevant to the world we live in. To that end, we have developed a one-week retreat for school students focusing on problem solving, promoting play and experimentation, and using computers to explore mathematical ideas. Our goal is to spark a life-long love for mathematics in students, which will both improve their performance in school and increase the chances that they will pursue maths and science in the longer term. We also encourage the participation of school teachers in order to expose them to innovative teaching methods and computer methods.

1st Maseno Maths Camp, 2001

The 1st Annual Maseno University Maths Camp for high school students took place from 7th-13th August 2011 on the university campus. Students and teachers from over fifteen schools were represented at the week-long inaugural event aimed to introduce participants to new ideas and technologies in the teaching of Mathematics.

Activity sessions varied throughout the week ranging from lectures to hands-on computer based investigations to problem solving sessions. The sessions were led by a team of local and international educators giving participants the unique opportunity to benefit from a range of approaches and experiences. The students were presented ideas in mathematics beyond their curriculum, such as game theory, spherical geometry, mathematical modeling and number theory through talks, discussions, games, activities and computer software. Students, some of who were using computers for the first time, were able to make new mathematical discoveries and explain difficult ideas through the use of software including Mathematica, Geogebra, CAST and Gapminder.

Mathematical games involving playing cards taught students about the importance of following rules and applying strategy to improve performance. Applying rules correctly is the key to being successful with mathematics in school. All participants left the camp with a resource pack including two decks of cards, two mathematical sculptures, two dvds of resources and a wealth of new information to share with their peers and colleagues at their own school.

Future Plans

One difficulty in attracting students to the event is the clash with the ‘tuition’ being offered at schools during the holidays. Most schools struggle to finish the teaching of the syllabus in normal term time so students are then left to pay for extra tuition during their breaks. As the final exam determines university prospects, preparing for it is the top priority. With pledged support from Maseno University, this event is set to grow in the coming years. The feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive and nearly all are hoping to attend next year’s camp. Next year we anticipate substantial growth in numbers with the additional goal of attracting international students as well.

The goal is to spark an interest in young minds in a subject that has gained a reputation as being boring and repetitive. It is the hope that by reaching out to students and teachers, that they will return to their schools to share their new ideas. Developing an understanding of how effective a tool computers are in teaching and learning is essential. The Maths Camp provides resources that will equip a new generation of pupils with the skills necessary to achieve well in school, university and beyond.