CCC Page Center hosts Navajo Math Circles Camp

Students pose with their certificates at the end of the Navajo Math Circles Camp.

Coconino Community College Page Center hosted the Navajo Math Circles Camp from May 31 through June 9. The camp was a partnership between CCC, Page Unified School District and Navajo Nation Math Circles.

The camp was open to all students in grades 6 to 12, with 24 students participating this year.

“We had mathematicians from across the United States join us here on campus to give our students a unique camp experience, during which students engaged in math, cultural and physical activities,” said Coconino Community College Page Center Coordinator Shannon Garrison.

Math activities included Balloon Numbers, Grid Luck, Tile Trouble, Sierpinski, Rubic’s Cat, Math Wrangles, Math Magic, Code Cracking, Travel with Wolves and Sheep, Pizza Math, Puzzles, Games and Math Blocks.

For cultural and physical activities, students participated in hogan math; studied Navajo language and history; learned about edible plants; played capture the flag, frisbee golf, kickball and basketball; and enjoyed a campout. 

The campout was hosted by mathematician and co-director of Navajo Nation Math Circles Henry Fowler and his family. Students enjoyed eating traditional food, hiking on the ranch, cooking smores at the campfire, studying the stars and constellations, learning about sustainable living and, of course, spending time hanging out with their new friends.

The Navajo Math Circles Summer Camp finished on June 9 with a recognition ceremony, during which camp staff shared their appreciation for the students and staff, shared a video from the camp, and recognized the accomplishments of the students with the presentation of certificates. The video, and more information about the Navajo Math Circles Camp, can be found online at navajomathcircles.org/.

Garrison said it was a “great camp” for the students.

“We are excited that we were able to host this camp experience in Page and look forward to hosting it again next summer at Coconino Community College,” she said. 

“This is the first year that we ran it. The goal for next year is to host it again here. The idea is that our students that attended this year will go and tell their friends, and we’ll have a larger group of students that will want to participate next year. The idea is to continue to grow the camp each year and make it better for our kids.”

After the camp ended, students wrote thank-you letters to the camp staff and described what their favorite parts were and what meaningful things they were taking from camp. 

“Thank you for teaching me so many interesting things about math,” one of the students, Riley Deskins, wrote. “I won’t forget these two weeks.”

Another student, Hazel Starling, created a piece of artwork for the camp and wrote, “Thank you for teaching me to have fun with math!”

On June 10, after the conclusion of the camp, the mathematicians from the camp hosted a professional development training at CCC for teachers in Page and the surrounding communities.

The training provided several different workshop opportunities where teachers engaged in learning the Math Circles activities that students experienced during the previous two weeks.

Teachers experienced the activities through the training and were also provided materials to implement the activities in their own classrooms.

CCC thanked Fowler and his family, as well Navajo Nation Math Circles co-director David Auckly, for all their work to make the camp a huge success.

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