Mathcamp Essay

As I wrote in my last post, I’m applying to Mathcamp this year. I thought I’d share my application essay from last year, which describes some of my thoughts about math and explains why I want to go to Mathcamp.

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I sit in front of the computer with a package of nori, watching Vi Hart’s Gauss Christmath Special for the third time in a row. I shake with laughter until I almost choke, and I wonder what “the Euler characteristic of polyhedra homeomorphic to a sphere” is.

Origamists like Robert Lang can fold scaly fish, feathered birds, and detailed dragons with a single uncut square of paper. I stare at my modular stellated icosahedron and wonder if I could have folded it with 29 squares less.

Perched on the stepstool in the kitchen, I take pictures of the fractal-like pattern in the congealed bacon grease. My sister looks into the kitchen to see what I am doing. She looks at the dirty pan, shakes her head in disbelief, and leaves the room.

“Miranda, would you be interested in training for math competitions?” I ask one of my students. A fellow tutor and her pupils peer at me wonderingly. “Sure,” says Miranda, and my face lights up. I am eager to share about Pythagorean triples, modular arithmetic, and combinations.

Curled up in a chair in my living room, I am absorbed in The Art and Craft of Problem Solving by Paul Zeitz. “What are you reading?” asks a friend. “It’s an amazing book,” I say. My friend looks skeptical. “Amazing? It looks like math.” She doesn’t understand that math is amazing.

My mathematical biography has many anecdotes. However, as a homeschooled student, it is somewhat lacking in comrades and adventure. I would like to come to Mathcamp to find both. I imagine myself playing the puzzle hunt with kindred spirits who get up at the crack of dawn to do math. I picture hiking with intrepid mathletes. I envision learning about knot theory with a roomful of avid problem solvers. I would love to adventure with the Mathcamp community.

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