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Innovative summer programs scheduled

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2010-02-26

Creative writing, mathematics camps designed to challenge students

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Collaborative and experiential learning, crossing disciplines, connecting the dots – at Wofford College, innovation and creativity cross all boundaries, not just in the regular classroom, but in summer programs that provide unique opportunities to younger students.

This year, Wofford will offer two especially innovative programs – Shared Worlds, a creative writing program in its third year, and BLAM (Bridging Liberal Arts and Mathematics), a new program that explores the relationship of logic, literature, art, music and history to mathematics.

Both residential programs are open to rising 8th through rising 12th graders. Both run Sunday, July 18, through Saturday, July 31.

“We’re delighted to be able to offer such exciting and innovative programs,” says Dr. Tim Schmitz, director of summer programs and associate professor of history. “Each, in its own way, encourages students to make connections across disciplinary lines. At Shared Worlds, for example, students plan their worlds’ topography, biology and history and then write fiction set in these imaginary landscapes. As Wofford expands its summer programs, our goal is to create distinctive opportunities for young people that are available nowhere else in the United States.”

BLAM (Bridging Liberal Arts and Mathematics)

The BLAM program is designed to be accessible to students at many different math levels. Unlike traditional math courses, BLAM’s instructors will emphasize forms of mathematics that are not usually part of a middle- or high-school curriculum. Interactive demonstrations will be used to connect the mathematics studied to other fields in the spirit of a liberal arts education. Among other things, students will explore how the followers of Pythagoras used whole numbers to describe the world around them, and how their findings led directly to such things as determining the spacing of frets on a guitar neck and Johannes Kepler’s heliocentric model of the universe.

“Mathematics bridges everything,” says Dr. Matt Cathey, assistant professor of mathematics, who along with Dr. Joseph Spivey, assistant professor of mathematics, will be teaching the program. “From art and literature to music and history, math is a common thread that connects the liberal arts.” Will Haight, a professor of mathematics and computer science at Sewanee: The University of the South, also will participate in the program.

Students in BLAM will explore: the logical foundations of mathematics and their connection to the writings of Lewis Carroll and Raymond Smullyan; the earth-shattering discoveries of irrational numbers and non-Euclidean geometries; the mathematical generation of fractals along with their use in art; the mathematics of tessellations and the artist M.C. Escher’s use of them in his works; the relationships between number theory and musical scales, and how those relationships helped shape the world view of the Pythagorean movement; how an 18th century puzzle led to the theory behind computer networks; the product packaging based on the shapes of bubbles; and other topics chosen from among the interests of the participants.

BLAM is not limited to students with extraordinary mathematical ability, but is intended for students with a strong interest in math who enjoy learning in any discipline.

Registration for BLAM is limited to 30 students. The cost is $2,000, which includes residential housing on campus and all meals as well as instruction, speakers, supervisory personnel, and all activities throughout the two-week program. Also included is a complimentary copy of the student version of Mathematica, a path-breaking computer program created by Wolfram Research, which will be used extensively throughout the program. Wolfram Research (www.wolfram.com) is a sponsor of BLAM.

For information or to register for BLAM, to go www.wofford.edu/blam, or contact Dr. Matt Cathey at catheyme@wofford.edu or Dr. Joseph Spivey at spiveyja@wofford.edu.

Shared Worlds

Shared Worlds logo 250During Wofford’s Shared Worlds program, students will work in groups, collaborating to create all aspects of an imaginary world. While refining their worlds as a member of a group, participants also will write fiction set in their worlds. As a result, the students will hone their problem-solving and reasoning skills while working closely with others and writing intensively. They also will explore game design and consider their worlds and stories as the settings for games.

The program will be led by camp director Jeremy Jones, a freelance writer and lecturer in English at Wofford. He will be joined by author Jeff VanderMeer, assistant director of the program and two-time winner of the World Fantasy Award, whose most recent novel, “Finch,” was published in 2009. Dr. Christine Dinkins, associate professor of philosophy at Wofford, and Chris Dinkins writing instructor and Shared Worlds classroom coordinator, also will teach in the program. Other featured guests include: “Spiderwick Chronicles” co-creator Holly Black; acclaimed authors Kathe Koja and Marly Youmans; Nebula Award-winning author Michael Bishop; and writer and gaming expert Will Hindmarch. Artist Scott Eagle also will conduct a workshop during the camp.

All participants will contribute a story to a chapbook and receive both a letter of evaluation from a Shared Worlds instructor and a thorough critique of a story by a guest author.

Registration for Shared Worlds is limited to 48 students. The cost is $2,000, which includes residential housing on campus and all meals as well as instruction, supervisory personnel, and all activities throughout the two-week program.

For information and to register for Shared Worlds, go to http://sharedworlds.wofford.edu, or contact Cathy Conner at sharedworlds@wofford.edu or 864-597-4500.

MEDIA: High-resolution (300 dpi) versions of both logos are available electronically on request.  Contact Laura Corbin at laura.corbin@wofford.edu.