A Day at BEAM Discovery

So what exactly happens at BEAM Discovery? Here’s a look at a typical day, featuring photos from BEAM Discovery’s Downtown NYC campus!

The morning starts with breakfast, followed by morning classes. BEAM believes in choice, so students pick classes, which might be “Beating Sherlock” or “Fractions, Puzzles, and Games.”

After class, students have an hour of Open Math Time, time where they can work on any math they choose, individually or in groups. They make sure to complete required PSets (problem sets) from class, and they can then explore challenges (the Problem of the Week or the 100 Problem Challenge), math books, coding websites, the Art of Problem Solving, and more.

After class, it’s on to activities! BEAM students get their choice of sports, board games, arts and crafts, and other creative activities. Recent hits included how to solve a Rubik’s cube, origami, anime club, and relay tic-tac-toe.

After activities, it’s off to lunch. BEAM pays for catered lunch from local restaurants every day. These photos are from empanada Thursday!

Most days, the afternoon block features an exact repeat of the morning block: class, open math time, activities. But one day each week, we have special afternoons, which feature Relays, a team-based math competition where students solve math challenges with some silliness mixed in. A recent problem required students to hum a tune their judge would recognize before they gave their math answer!

When the day wraps up, students join their travel groups to take the subway home and relax and recharge so their brains are fresh for another day at BEAM!

There's a lot going on at BEAM 6 NYC!

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BEAM 6 NYC has been underway for three weeks, and the students and staff have a lot to show for it! Since the first Monday, binders have been decorated, balls have been spiked, mafia members have been investigated- and that’s all just in activity periods!

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For staff members, the fun started a week before the program for setup where they turned New Design High School (NDHS) into the official BEAM 6 Downtown site. There they taught each other new strategies for problem-solving and how to support students throughout this five-week program.


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The program officially kicked off officially on Monday morning when the students met with their travel groups (or traveled alone) and came to NDHS. Upon arrival, the students got to know each other, the staff, and an overview of the program.

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Throughout the rest of the week students were able to experience four types of classes that they’ll be in for the rest of the program; Logical Reasoning, Math Fundamentals, Math Team Strategies, and Applied Math. Each of these topics have different instructors and each instructor teaches a different course, so there’s never a dull moment during lunch when the students talk about what they learned earlier that day.

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All in all the students have had a great start of camp and made connections that will last them throughout the program, and hopefully throughout life!

Check back soon for another post soon: Staff profiles!

Our First Week at Bard!

What does it feels like to be a middle school student taking challenging math courses? Ask BEAM students as they have the answers to most of your questions whether mathematical or not. 


For the most part, BEAM students have been describing their first week of Math classes as both challenging and fun. As their regular schedule starts at 7:45 AM with a walk to the dining hall, our young adolescents are always reminded of the busy schedule ahead of them.


However, to remain focused in their classes and maximize their performance in some of their favorite activities, our students are learning healthy habits such as correct meal portions, staying hydrated, and good communication skills. 


Life at Bard can be described as anything but ordinary. Through daily interactions with their peers, our students are learning how to respect each other's ideas beyond classrooms.


No matter the situation that these thinkers are placed in, their eagerness to ask questions and help each other surpass their current mental and physical state. Their hard work and dedication has indeed marked a successful ending of their first week at Bard College.

A Day in the Life of BEAM 6

It's Friday which means we are nearly 20% of the way finished with BEAM 6 Los Angeles 2018. Where did the time go??

So, what is a week like at BEAM 6? Each day features:

  • Breakfast
  • Morning class
  • Open Math Time
  • Activities
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon class
  • Open Math Time
  • Activities

Let's dig deep on each of those blocks! 

The day begins with a balanced breakfast, served a la carte in the cafeteria. 

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Then, it's off to class!  Students at BEAM take four classes, one each in the following tracks: Logical Reasoning, Math Fundamentals, Math Team Strategies, and Applied Math. At the beginning of the summer, students selected which version of each class they wanted to take. Their options were:

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  • Logical Reasoning:
    • KenKen Puzzles and More
    • Ultimate Brain Puzzles!
    • Elementary, My Dear!
    • Liars, Truthtellers, and More
  • Math Fundamentals:
    • Fractions and Food
    • Exponents: the Super-Powers of Numbers
    • Patterns, Lines, and Number Rules
  • Applied Math:
    • Introduction to Cryptography
    • Voting: How to Run a Country
    • Computer Programming
  • Math Team Strategies:
    • Using Patterns to Solve Problems
    • Counting Without Counting and Fantastic (Number) Beasts
    • Words, Meet Numbers: An Algebra Story

    Don't those sound fun? How did students choose?? Each instructor gave a course description and a sample problem! Here's one set to consider!

    Elementary, My Dear!


    Course Description:

    Ever wonder how detectives like Sherlock Holmes solve complicated mysteries? It's all in the details. In this class we'll explore the different techniques used to solve complicated riddles and how to apply them in tough mathematical problems.

    Sample problem:

    Mr. Red, Mr. Blue, and Mr. White meet at a restaurant for lunch. Under their coats they are wearing either a red, blue, or white shirt. Mr. Blue says, “Hey, did you notice we are all wearing different colored shirts from our names?” The man wearing the white shirt says, “Wow, Mr. Blue, that’s right.” Can you tell who is wearing what color shirt?

    Open Math Time

    One of the big goals of BEAM is that students spend time doing math they enjoy! So, during Open Math Time, students get a menu of options they can pursue. We encourage students to keep going back to this menu of options during 7th grade, whenever they're looking for a challenge!  During Open Math Time, students might:

    • Reinforce learning from their classes with Problem Sets  
    • Try out the weekly challenge problem
    • Work on the 100 Problem Challenge (more on that later!)
    • Explore the Art of Problem Solving, probably by checking out Alcumus

    Students can work independently, or in groups!  It's really up to what makes each student the most productive. 

    Students Learn Blokus


    Morning activities last for the whole week! They're a time to learn new skills or spend a whole week on a passion. This week's options are:

    • Board Games: Old classics and new! 
    • Decorate Your Binder 
    • Watch the World Cup: Watch live and old soccer games!  
    • Learn to Solve A Rubik’s Cube
    • Rooftop FUN: Steal The Bacon and Sharky Sharky 
    • Learn to Play Settlers: A trading and building board game set in the mythical world of Catan!
    • Learn Dominion: A strategy card game where each time you play it’s different! 


    Then, it's on to lunch (buffet catering from local restaurants), the next class, the next block of Open Math Time, and afternoon activities, which change every day. 

    All in all, it's a busy, exciting day, and we'll have much more to share over the upcoming weeks!

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    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.


    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

    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!



    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!

    A Day in the Life of BEAM!

    What are students up to at BEAM 7? Follow us through a day at Union College!

    First, classes! This week, students are taking the following classes:

    • Exploring Infinity
    • Numbers, Patterns, and Proof
    • SET and Combinatorics 
    • Logic and Proofs
    • Solving Big Problems
    • Math Team Strategies

    Here are some photos from classes!

    In the morning and the afternoon, students take activities: we offer sports, arts & crafts, library time, yoga, and so much more!  Check it out:

    We're loving the meals at Union! Check out all these smiling faces at lunch:

    In the afternoon, students have class, activities, class, then dinner.

    After dinner, we return to the dorm for evening free time:

    We cap out the day with Modules -- independent study designed to build stronger foundations in elementary and middle school math so students are even more ready for advanced math in the future. 

    Then, it's off to hall meetings and then bed, so we're ready for another day of BEAM!