To engage young scholars from schools and colleges during their summer vacations, the Mathematical Sciences Foundation (MSF) is inviting applications for its programme — ‘Inviting All Young Minds,’ (IAYM). The month-long summer project for students from across the country will involve applications of mathematics and provide opportunities to exhibit creativity.
Students are made to work on specific projects in small groups. Besides, lectures are given on mathematical concepts used in industries like engineering and finance. In addition, they are also taught advanced features of Excel, statistical softwares like Matlab and Flash to supplement their project work. The total intake for this internship is 70 and the last date for registering is April 22.
Also, stipends are provided to the selected participants besides travel and accommodation support to outstation
Dinesh Singh, director, MSF, says: “Today, there is a major disconnect between academics and society. Thus, students find it difficult to relate concepts they study to real-life situations, which in turn leads to rote-learning and not understanding concepts.” And further, students find subjects, specifically mathematics, ‘difficult.’ Though, he adds, “The students aren’t to be blamed for this, but teachers and academicians are at fault. And if they can demonstrate its use to students, giving them a first-hand experience, students would grasp concepts faster. And this is what we are trying to do through MSF.”
For instance, one of the projects last year involved students to find the circumference of the earth without using modern technology. The project involved taking readings of the shadow of objects at two different places on the same longitude in Delhi and Bangalore. And they achieved a remarkable accuracy of 94%. Their project was on co-ordinate geometry, which was presented through a story based on a treasure hunt involving cartoon characters. He points out: “Students, and even teachers, need to understand that there are ways of finding the truth, so students should be given opportunities to experiment and explore, thus encouraging enquiry-based learning."
This year, they plan to take up projects such as face recognition software, use of mathematics in early detection of diseases, analysis of the flow of crowds or traffic, computer viruses and their treatment among others.
Singh informs: “We are planning to set up an innovation institute for mathematics and IT which would provide a common platform for students, teachers, industry and even society to come together to innovate and experiment.”
The foundation has been engaged for over several years through several innovative programmes related to the teaching, understanding, learning and application of mathematics at the school, college and postgraduate levels. “We believe in hands-on education wherein research by students and faculty is an integral part. The foundation is creating a role model for higher education in India,” adds Singh.
At the undergraduate level, it offers part-time courses in applications of mathematics — mathematical finance, corporate finance and mathematical simulation with information technology. Excel in Business Finance course is currently taught to about 2000 students at various business school campuses.
At the postgraduate level, it offers courses in mathematics, physics and computer science. These courses train participants to pursue careers in pure mathematics as well as in applicable mathematics. Graduates of these courses are admitted to the graduate programmes of the University of Houston with full credit, financial aid and a tuition waiver.
Their ‘Work and Learn Programme’ — wherein undergraduate and graduate students serve an internship with MSF — combines study and work, with students learning computer and mathematical skills and are also employed on diverse projects ranging from image processing to education technology.
“With the support of Nasscom, we are currently engaged in a 15-year project to redefine the mathematics curriculum at the school level and develop e-lessons and testing methodologies. Several innovative mathematical tools for school children of classes VI-X have already been created,” says Singh.
MSF is a registered non-profit educational society (under the Societies Registration Act of 1860). Its faculty has studied and worked at leading institutions of the world, such as Oxford, Imperial College, Berkeley, Purdue,
TIFR, IITs, Indian Statistical Institute, University of Delhi, University of Houston, University of Warwick, among others.