A Typical Day at PROMYS
“Never before had I been given so much freedom to experiment with problems, and the program’s emphasis on the process of thinking mathematically instead of the results pushed me to be more creative.” Evelyn Choi, Student 2019-2021
During the six weeks of PROMYS, each weekday begins with the entire program gathering for Number Theory lecture from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. At the end of lecture, students receive the daily problem set and meet with their counselor to get feedback on the previous day’s work. Besides the Number Theory lecture, students are given a lot of independence to choose other activities and how to use their time. Some students participate in a lab project or one or more of the advanced seminars. On average, students have from 1.5 to 3.5 hours of scheduled class time each weekday.
A lot of mathematical activity takes place during unscheduled time, including on weekends! Students spend most of the day (and often the night) working both independently and collaboratively on problem sets – first year students typically focus on the daily Number Theory problems, while returning students spend most of their time on problem sets for advanced seminars. Students are challenged to design their own numerical experiments, make conjectures, and justify their ideas in proofs. Students receive regular guidance from counselors. Most students work in the dorm, but some choose to work in the library, in an empty classroom, or in some of the outdoor green spaces around campus.
Students live in dormitories at Boston University with two students per room – an excellent opportunity to get a taste of college life. There are separate living quarters according to gender identity; curfews and visiting hours do apply. Counselors live on the same floors as PROMYS students, and are placed close to the students they mentor whenever possible.
While the focus at PROMYS is on mathematics, people do take breaks for non-math activities once in a while. Counselors organize weekly “mandatory fun” to build community, as well as frisbee, basketball, or volleyball games on the weekends. Some students enjoy jogging along the Charles River in the morning before lecture, playing games, or practicing their musical instruments. Still, participants spend almost all of their time engaging with mathematics and with each other.
The footage for this video was filmed during the summer of PROMYS 2013 and at the 25th Summer of PROMYS Celebration July 5-7, 2013.