Bard 2017

Weekend 2 at Bard: Debates, Relays, and Field Day

Instructor Tanya gathers the attention of members of the Orange Team as everybody prepares for Field Day activities.

Instructor Tanya gathers the attention of members of the Orange Team as everybody prepares for Field Day activities.

It has been a jam-packed weekend at Bard BEAM 7, with Saturday marking the end of week 2 courses, an impromptu student-vs.-staff debate, round 2 of relays, and an all-day Field Day concluding with a student-vs.-staff game of capture the flag.


Saturday Highlights:

Saturday was marked by a sudden decision which will likely leave a lasting legacy at BEAM 7: a program wide debate. After some quick logistical considerations, the plan became to have four rounds of student vs. staff debates, with the groups of student and staff debaters changing with each round. The groups of students who debated against staff were determined earlier in the day by having various groups of students practice debating against each other, with the staff choosing the groups which they believed would pose the biggest challenge.

So about what exactly did we debate? After careful consideration, the debate moderators--consisting of counselor Dave as well as students Jade, Camila, and Anthony--decided on four pressing, relevant, and emotional topics. At the beginning of each round, each side was randomly assigned to either argue FOR the issue at hand, or AGAINST it. The topics were as follows:

  1. Should high school students be guaranteed a daily recess?
  2. Should BEAM allow cell phones at all meals with out any rules?
  3. Should Modules be abolished from the BEAM program?
  4. Does pineapple belong on pizza?

After each round, all individuals who did not participate in that round got to vote on which side they thought argued their stance better. Staff won rounds 1 and 4 arguing for required recess and pineapple on pizza. Students won rounds 2 and 3 arguing against allowing cell phones but arguing to keep Modules in BEAM.

Immediately following these intense debates were another round of relays. Relays are a team-style competition where students complete problems in order to gain points. The teams with the most points get to choose from a selection of neat prizes! Check out some pictures of the event below.


Sunday: FIELD DAY!

First of all, what constitutes a "Field Day"? Field Days can take many forms, and the exact schedule of one can vary across different summer programs. The general idea, however, is a day full of fun activities in which teams compete against each other to earn points--the team with the most points at the end of the day wins! For BEAM's field day, the winning team was rewarded with an extra helping of dessert at dinner.

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Field Day!

After starting the morning with a late breakfast, students and staff divided up into the four field day teams: Red, Green, Purple, and Orange. With two staff members leading each team of 10, Field Day began with a 30 minute team meeting where strategy for the first event was discussed and face paint was distributed to get into the spirit of each team's color. Once everybody was decorated and ready, field day began! Here was the schedule of events:

  1. 11-12 Photo Scavenger Hunt
  2. 12-1 Break for Lunch and Opening Ceremonies
  3. 1-1:30 Team Relay - Ping Pong Ball Balancing, Hula Hooping, and Jump Roping
  4. 1:30-2 Human Knots
  5. 2-2:45 Dance Off Competition
  6. 2:45-3:15 Frisbee Throwing for Accuracy and Sponge Relay
  7. 3:15-4:15 Tug of War and Break
  8. 4:15-5 Water Balloon Fight and Water Balloon Cleanup Competition

After all the activities were finished, students got some down time before heading to dinner, with a game of Capture the Flag--again, students vs. staff--following dinner. Check out field day photos below!

I really enjoyed field day because I got to do things that I’ve never been able to do in the city before. Playing tug-of-war, having a dance off, and participating in a water balloon fight were all incredible.
— Sebastian

Entering Week Two at Bard

BEAM 7 students and staff pose at the end of their hike atop the North South Lake campground.

BEAM 7 students and staff pose at the end of their hike atop the North South Lake campground.

Week 1 at the Bard Campus has come to a very exciting close, and Week 2 is promising to be even better than the last! There were amazing guest speakers, two thrilling field trips, and many other fun activities, both math related and not. Take a peek below for some highlights from moments in class throughout the week:

Week 1 topics courses concluded on Saturday, which means the second week of classes started this past Tuesday! This week, instructors have the following course offerings:

  • Cryptography: Having Secrete Conversations in Public
  • Group Theory
  • The Royal Family, Evil Guy, and Evolution of Number Kingdoms
  • The Chinese Remainder Theorem
  • Math Team Strategies
  • Solving Big Problems

Consistent with last week, students choose one of the first four options as their topics course, and they also choose one of the last two for their problem solving course. But what other opportunities do students have to explore fun mathematical concepts besides in class? In addition to a camp wide challenge problems--the second of which has yet to be solved--students partake in "Modules" Tuesday-Friday night. Modules gives the students a chance to see the mathematical concepts of the flavor they are likely to see in school, but they're slightly trickier and help develop quick and efficient mathematical problem solving skills.  


In Other News...

We had many exciting things happen this week! With the conclusion of the first round of topics courses on Saturday, the students were rewarded with the first round of relays: a competition between groups of students where they must solve math puzzles while completing specific tasks to earns points--the teams with the most points get their peak of some neat prizes. In addition to that, students got the privilege to listen to 2 guest speakers on Saturday: Stephen Wolfram and Pedro Poitevin. Stephen Wolfram is a renowned mathematician and computer scientist who developed the popular program Mathematica and website WolframAlpha.com. Pedro Poitevin is a mathematics professor at Salem State University in Massachusetts, and he was also the undergraduate adviser to Javier, one of the instructors. Check out the pictures of Saturday's exciting events below!

 

As a weekend treat, we went on a group hike at the North South Lake campground, where most students and staff made the 2 hour trek to the top. After enjoying a stunning view of upstate New York, there was a picnic ready and waiting at our hike's starting point, where the kids got to spend some well-deserved free time hanging out and playing games before packing up to head back to Bard.

Students getting ready to start their hike!

Students getting ready to start their hike!

What's happened in the first week at Bard?

First things first. Where exactly is Bard? Located about about a 2 hour drive north of New York City, our site for BEAM 7 rests right along the Hudson River nestled among the trees. While at Bard, BEAM7 operates most heavily in three buildings: Keene, our home base and dormitory for students and staff; Kline, the cafeteria where we eat all three meals each day; and Hegeman, where most activities and classes take place!

 

Activities!

Pictured above: Counselor Kaylynn (middle) and instructor Javier (left of Kaylynn) play Set, a matching game which requires players to recognize patterns in a set of cards, with students Jack, Storm, and Seb. 

Pictured above: Counselor Kaylynn (middle) and instructor Javier (left of Kaylynn) play Set, a matching game which requires players to recognize patterns in a set of cards, with students Jack, Storm, and Seb. 

At BEAM, students get to choose between a variety of activities offered by counselors and faculty, ranging from high-energy sports and games to more relaxing crafts. So far this week, counselors have run:

  • Soccer, Ultimate Frisbee, Capture the Flag, Basketball
  • Mandala Coloring, Hexaflexagon Making, Paper Airplanes
  • THE Egg Drop Contest
  • Cloud Watching, Exploring Bard's Campus, Settles of Catan

And this is just throughout the first week! Over the next two weeks, the counselors and staff will have many more activities to come...


But what about the math?

A number of students work diligently on problem sets in their Math Team Strategies class, which reviews techniques for quick in easy problem solving in the face of seemingly difficult questions. Mathematicians can be a lazy bunch, so learning the techniques to making challenging problems easier is an important skill set!

A number of students work diligently on problem sets in their Math Team Strategies class, which reviews techniques for quick in easy problem solving in the face of seemingly difficult questions. Mathematicians can be a lazy bunch, so learning the techniques to making challenging problems easier is an important skill set!

So what math are the kids actually doing? This week, we have the following options:

  • Number Theory
  • Combinatorics
  • Turing Machines
  • Graph Theory
  • Math Team Strategies
  • Solving Big Problems

The best thing about our courses--besides the amazing instructors who design and teach them--students choose what interests them! Each student is in one of the first four options (called the core topics courses) and one of the last two options (called the problem solving courses). Stay tuned for more updates on what's happening at Bard for BEAM 7 2017!

Welcome to Bard!

We started the day with families and staff meeting at Bryant Park. Everyone was super excited to meet the students, and they all made a great first impression! Everyone took the documentary crew in stride and we began to see many friendships forming. Especially when students and staff went out for lunches.

The students then boarded the bus and were off to Bard! Upon arrival, they were given tours, got to know the campus, and soon got right to problem solving and game playing. 

An entry from a student: 

At first I was very nervous to arrive to BEAM, but as soon as I got to see a few familiar faces and began to have great conversations with my peers, I was really excited to start classes.
— Camila Perez

We can't wait to see how these students grow over the next few weeks, and to share some of this amazing experience with all of you!