CAS Blog

Beyond the Senior School Maths curriculum

Thursday, March 07, 2019

+2=1 (mod 3) and parallel lines actually do meet (in the projective plane).

Don’t believe me? Want to find out more? Then you’re the perfect person for the National Mathematics Summer School (NMSS).

Based at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, NMSS is a 13 day University-style program for 75 students from across Australia who have completed Year 11 and have a strong passion for Maths. These 13 days are spent exploring a range of fascinating topics beyond the high school Maths curriculum, including an in-depth course on Number Theory, and side-courses such as Knots and Projective Geometry. There is also a fantastic sight-seeing program included, which allows for time to visit many of Canberra’s main attractions, such as Questacon, Black Mountain Lookout, the War Memorial, Old Parliament House, New Parliament House, the National Library, the High Court, the National Museum and National Art Galleries.

After applying for the program and being successful, it dawned on me that I was actually quite afraid of taking the giant leap into the unknown, as I hadn’t spent such an amount of time away from my family since Quest. Luckily though, the moment I stepped onto my first flight to Canberra and met the other students attending from SA, my initial fears were completely gone. They were the friendliest people, and this was a common theme with everyone at NMSS. This includes the lecturers and staff, who were all super enthusiastic and made sure we were well looked-after. Everyone was attending for the same reasons, which made the experience all the more enjoyable. We all resided in our own dorms at St John XXIII College on the ANU campus, so we spent a lot of our free-time playing games, chatting about our common interests and exploring Canberra together, allowing everyone to form great friendships with one another.

The math we learnt was definitely challenging, and I did spend the first few lectures wondering what on earth was going on, but this was exactly why I loved it so much. After each lecture we had time to work on problem sets, which is where my mathematical thinking really developed. You were forced to struggle, and very rarely were you given the answers (if they existed!), so I found myself always trying new techniques and viewing problems from perspectives I hadn’t thought of before, which (in most cases) led me to making the greatest progress. The chances to receive feedback from some of the best and brightest Maths professors and students in Australia during these times were invaluable too.

It would be an understatement to say that these were the best two weeks of my life so far. Sure, doing difficult Maths in the summer holidays is not going to appeal to everyone, but NMSS was about so much more than just Maths. I met an amazing group of like-minded people who became family, had rare chances to visit places like the Australian Academy of Science (where entry is invite-only!), explored so many new places around Canberra, and got a true experience of life at University and what it’s really like to work in Maths.

NMSS is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is not to be missed if you’re thinking about a career in Maths, or have a passion for STEM. It was certainly a memorable and unique experience that I will never forget.

If you would like to know more about the National Mathematics Summer School, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected].

Georgia Dallimore
Year 12 IB Student