I cannot believe we have been here close to two weeks now! I am loving this version if “math camp.” Everyone is very very kind, smart, and willing to work hard. It is an exciting and refreshing community to be part of.
Today is the first day of our SMPosium! As far as I am aware, SMPosium is like a mini-conference within our month-long SMP. SMP alums who have gone on to earn a PhD in mathematics are invited back to visit. They give presentations, are on panels, and spend time with us current SMPers. We talk with them, ask questions, get to know one another, and really become part of the “multigenerational” SMP community, so to speak.
There will be about 20 alums who have come back for SMPosium this year. I don’t know what it is going to be like, but everyone who has been to SMPosium before (our TAs, program assistants, professors, etc.) is very excited, so I am excited. :)
We have been working in groups on problem sets, class work, and projects a lot more than I am used to. At first I wasn’t sure I would like that, but now I do. In the past, I have found group work to be frustrating and not particularly productive, but here I have been happily amazed at how our group work really CAN be better than working alone. Since all of us are very hard working and want to have a complete understanding of the math, working together in SMP groups has really helped improve my understanding of the topics we are studying. It’s the way group work is supposed to be. If anything, perhaps we spend too long on a question because we are trying to understand it more thoroughly than is necessary. :o
Yesterday I was working on my problem set for Lie theory with a friend in a small study room in the basement of the dorm. We were working on a whiteboard…with brand new markers…in a small enclosed space– the smell was overwhelming and we had to stand up on the desks in the room to open the ceiling-level window! All in the name of math. :)
I am now wary of the concept of putting a white board in a small room. One more reason I prefer chalk boards to whiteboards.