The National Mathematics Summer School (NMSS) is planned to go ahead in 2021!
APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN. Please download the application form here.
The National Mathematics Summer School (NMSS) is to be held on 10–23 January 2021. This is a selective camp that caters for students from all over Australia who are in Year 11 in 2020 and who not only enjoy mathematics but who are also very mathematically able. It is a two-week program held at the Australian National University in Canberra in January. Many enduring friendships are made on this very special summer school, now in its' 53rd year, and each year a few past students return to help run the program.
Topics range from number theory through to chaos and topology. There is a strong emphasis on solving problems and many students often find themselves working on problems well into the night (because they want to!). There is also a strong emphasis on recreation, exploration and fun and many activities, tours and talks are organised. During afternoon recreation, students are free to socialise and explore Canberra (popular activities include ice skating, ten pin bowling, tandem bike riding around the lake). There is an entertaining dinner and a concert on the last night.
Selection in previous years
MAV tests used for selecting students for the NMSS are not tests in which you demonstrate you can perform the rules and procedures you have been taught in mathematics classes. They are tests designed to find whether you can use what you know in creative ways to solve unfamiliar problems. Many of the questions do not rely on mathematics you have learnt in Year 11 but rather expect you to build on earlier mathematical knowledge by selecting, sequencing and combining it in unfamiliar and creative ways. For this reason, it is not always the students who gain the highest marks on school mathematics tests who perform at the highest levels on the more creative questions on these tests for entry to the NMSS.
Selection in 2020 for 2021
The test, conducted at the student's school in August, will be comprised of questions that include one or more of the following:
- Are set in contexts that may not initially appear mathematical
- Rely on a strong mathematical background in the form of algebraic, geometric, and/or graphical formulations
- Year 11 mathematics in unfamiliar ways
- Use prior mathematical knowledge (pre-Year 11) in unfamiliar ways
This gives a broader range of students an opportunity to show that they can think mathematically / display original mathematical thought.
Selection is based on the strength of a student's written application, teacher reference, and response to the MAV Selection Test for NMSS.
More information about the National Mathematics Summer School is available at www.nmss.edu.au.
Student testimonials from previous NMSS
"When I attended the NMSS, it definitely changed my life. I didn’t know a single other person and I was scared, I admit it, but looking back I shouldn’t have been, the people I met, although extremely diverse and unique, were not in the least bit scary. They welcomed me and I found that the majority of kids were in the same boat as me. I remember the first night, we played some games to get to know each other, and everyone was so nice. And they were all fun, although we all went because we shared a love of mathematics, we all realised that we were on holidays and that they should be fun. Almost every night we would play volleyball and most of us didn’t even know how to but it was still a lot of fun because everyone was so supportive. NMSS changed my life for the better, I no longer hide my love of maths, but am proud of it and try to develop it, also some of the people I met I am still very close friends with. We are friends for life, united by maths! "
"The National Mathematics Summer School was an amazing experience. For many years I had enjoyed mathematical challenges, and felt that I needed more than what the school curriculum had to offer, and that was what NMSS provided. Our minds were all stretched, and for many of us we were exposed to new fields of mathematics we didn’t even know existed! It’s a great learning atmosphere. Everyone had different ability levels, so we were all challenged in different ways and strived to our own potential. However, there is so much more to the NMSS than the learning. It’s a life experience. Not only did I enjoy the mathematics, but I also enjoyed the social interaction as well. Being able to meet some of Australia’s brightest young mathematicians and spend two weeks enjoying each other’s company is a truly rewarding experience. Playing volleyball or basketball after our afternoon sessions, exploring the city of Canberra, going ice-skating on the weekend, solving Rubik’s cubes and just chilling out with friends were all memories that I will never forget. At the end of the two weeks, there were even tears as everybody found it difficult to part and return home. For those of you who are considering applying to NMSS, if you have a love for mathematics and want to meet other people just like you, do it. You will not regret it."
"When I first heard about a so-called "maths camp" in Year 9, it brought tears to my eyes to think that there was something as sad as having a bunch of nerds giving up their holidays to discuss mathematics. Even though I'd always enjoyed maths, constantly bugged teachers with irrelevant questions, and done fairly well in past competitions, I was NEVER going to be THAT extreme. EVER. Two years on...I applied to go. On the outside, yes, I did pretend to be nonchalant ("as if I want to go to there!") and crack a few jokes with friends when they expressed their genuine concern about me turning into an "anti-social loser and nerd". But on the inside (and I would rather die than admit it) I was just burning to do maths that was more challenging and stimulating than the extremely structured and formulaic format offered by school courses.
NMSS actually turned out to be THE best experience of my life. It sounds like a cliché but it's true! Mathematically it was extremely draining. Every day we had to slave over about 6 hours of brain-wrenching lectures, tutorials and yes, homework. In addition to this, there were educational talks by professional mathematicians and former students. By the end of camp I was stunned at just how broad the study of mathematics is, how fundamental it is in almost everything we do, and the infinite related career paths that it can take you down in the future. However, NMSS was not all about maths! There were field trips, games and relays, concerts and formal dinners...yes, there was socialising. And sightseeing. We had opportunities to visit Canberra's tourist attractions such as Parliament House, the War Memorial, National Film and Gallery Archives, etc, and had heaps of fun at Questacon, ice-skating, zone 3 laser wars, or just playing sports or games in our free time.
But I have to say, the best part of it all for me were the people I got to meet – fellow students and adults alike. Many close bonds were formed and these are the kind of people that stay with you forever- they were ABSOLUTELY AWESOME, not at all like the glasses-wearing, textbook-toting, jargon-talking, introverted, pimply nerds that I admit I did think they would be. Meeting such multi-talented, nice, very intelligent, inspirational and yes, NORMAL people with similar interests was both exciting and humbling at the same time. I made many really great friends who I'm still in touch with and will never forget.
If you have an interest in maths, the kind you have to think long and hard about until you want to tear your hair out in frustration, always pester your maths teacher about the useless "whys" of maths, or are just interested about mathematics outside the limited scope of school, I definitely recommend that you consider going! "