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This is an update post on a bunch of different projects, along with information on things coming up, and ways for people to get involved.
Earlier today I put some finishing touches on a video about the Maseno Maths Camp. You can see the video here:
It's about 13 minutes long, and consists of footage from the camp (this year and last year), along with interviews with organizers and participating teachers. The main idea is to engage students in activity based mathematics, and really spark some interest. We also send the students home with a dvd full of programs and computer resources.
Some schools have computers, and some don't. But one student last year took the dvd to school, and ended up getting a whole computer lab installed after pestering school administrators for a way to access the materials! That same student's school also asked for a maths camp to happen at the school for all of the students: this led to us putting on a series of 'mini-maths camps,' half-day demonstrations which we've now done in about 15 schools. You can read about some of the recent mini-maths camps here.
I've additionally been working on some e-learning initiatives; we're finishing up a proposal to roll out some free e-learning courses nation-wide to educate people on a number of different topics. The big draw is a module on the new government structure which is coming into effect in March. But we're pairing this with a number of other vital courses, including a module on how to better engage with mathematics, both for learning and teaching.
If you're interested in helping out in one way or another, there are a few interesting options!
- The Maseno Maths Camp will be happening again next year in mid-August. Additionally, we'll be helping out with the first-ever maths camp at Bahir Dahr University in Ethiopia in July. And if you ever feel like wandering through Kenya, for whatever reason, we can arrange to do some mini-maths camps while working on other things.
- Also in August, Strathmore University in Nairobi will be holding its second international maths conference. This will consist of a week of graduate workshops in a number of areas (stats, education, and various topics in pure maths come to mind), followed by a more traditional-style conference with people from Kenya, Africa, and the world presenting research. It's a good thing to participate in, even if it's not so specific, because it exposes local mathematicians to things going on in the world math community, and also gives an idea of the international standards.
- Currently there's a group at the University of Nairobi planning an algebraic geometry workshop in Mombasa for July. Details are still coming together (and funding is still pending), but drop me a line if you're interested and I'll put you in touch with the organizers.
- Finally, we've just established an NGO in Kenya and the UK. It's called the African Mathematics Initiative. If you're interested in contributing financially, it will help fund the sorts of projects mentioned above, and allow us to employ some promising young Kenyan mathletes to help us keep things growing.
I think these efforts have a decent chance of affecting some real change, since we're working on the ground over a longer term. This lets us consistently apply pressure to improve on the system. There are undoubtedly numerous problems to work on, and the work has a certain Sisyphean air to it at times. But there's a real possibility here of building up the base of mathematical knowledge within Kenya, which in turn will allow the country to better function independently, and to find locally relevant solutions to the problems Kenya faces as a whole.