Overview

Wellesley's Pre-College Exploratory Workshops are recommended for young women from all over the US who are entering 9th throught 12th grade. Choose ONE topic of interest in a non-credit, one-week workshop designed to give you a quick taste of college life. There are four STEM courses to choose from. 

STEM COURSES to choose from include:

  • Cryptography: The Mathematics of Secret Writing
  • What allows us to send text messages that are unreadable to anyone other than the intended recipient? What makes an internet credit card transaction safe? This workshop will be an overview of the mathematics behind cryptography, the art and science of coding and decoding secret messages. We will follow a historical path, starting with simple encryption techniques used in Sparta, followed by a study of some more sophisticated substitution ciphers of the 18th and 19th century and a close look at the Enigma machine used by the Germans in World War II.

    We will at the end examine two modern public key ciphers, Diffie-Hellman and RSA, whose advent in the 1970s revolutionized the way we communicate even today in our daily digital interactions. Along the way, we will learn some cool mathematics from the fields of number theory and linear algebra and will try our hand at breaking some coded messages. We will also touch upon the issues of regulation of cryptography and consequences on privacy. Participants should have a strong background in algebra.

  • Introduction to Astronomy
  • Come explore the cosmos at the historic Whitin Observatory! This course will cover various exciting topics about space and include some hands-on experience with telescopes. This course provides an overview of the Universe through the lens of the physical principles that help us to probe it from right here on our puny planetary perch.

    Topics include stars and their planetary companions, the lives and deaths of stars, black holes, galaxies, and the origin and fate of the Universe. Hands-on activities will cover both naked-eye astronomy (e.g. the motions of the Sun and stars) and techniques of modern astronomy (e.g. digital imagery). (Please note that in addition to day classes students will also meet in the evenings in order to view the night sky.)

  • Climate Change and the Paths to a Sustainable Future
  • This workshop offers an interdisciplinary introduction to environmental studies, with a focus on a climate change.  Major concepts that will be examined include: the state of climate science, modes of climate activism, and strategies for addressing climate change. The workshop will be a mix of lecture, small-group work, and hands-on activities.  The goal is to engage the dire realities of climate change and to empower students to address it.

  • Political Musical Chairs: The Mathematics of Gerrymandering
  • For the purpose of electing representatives to the United States Congress, each state is divided into a number of congressional districts. This number depends on the population, as measured by the most recent census. But what is the most fair way to draw the boundaries of these districts? The topic of gerrymandering (constructing district boundaries in order to give one party an advantage over another) has been the subject of recent litigation in a number of states. This workshop will provide an overview of some of the mathematical ideas that can be brought to bear on this important problem. No advanced mathematical knowledge will be assumed.

Visit our website to learn more!

Cost and Session Information

PROGRAM DATES: July 26 - July 31, 2020

COST: $1,800 (including housing, meals, and activities) or $1400 for commuters

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