First day recap (updated)

Just for you, who are wondering at what exactly did Sigma Challenge involved, and what were your kids doing during the second part of the day. They did not cry for you. Sorry...  We kept them too busy. And here is a gilmpse with exactly what:

Upon arriving at the Silver Lake Campsite, the campers had a few minutes to get to know each other and the counselors, and say hello to friends from previous years.

After the registration was over, the campers, staff, and counselors all participated in the Sigma Quest, a 10-station get-to-know-each-other activity. The stations included games such as “broken printer”, a variation of broken telephone where the first student quickly illustrated some common proverb, the second student wrote down a description of the drawing, the third illustrated that description, the fourth described that illustration, and so on. Another favorite was the chair game, where students had to start out lying down on some chairs, and then support each other when the chairs were removed. Several teams were able to support all the students in this manner.

All the station were run by Staff who will be lecturing and leading the Semilabs. After completing a station, the campers were given a clue; 10 clues in all. The 10 clues added up to a puzzle on DNA mutations. After figuring out how the mutations were arranged in a tree, campers got a combination to one of the locks on the chest containing the  mysterious Sigma Spirit. Just prior to the opening ceremony, we made team posters.

The opening ceremony was a terrific success; it started with  the opening of the Sigma Spirit Chest and a montage of videos shot during Sigma Quest and ended with a description of the next day’s lectures and the workshop process.The highlight was a lecture by Brookhaven Laboratory Physicist Sergei Maslov, who talked about complex systems inside and outside of us -- from networks of proteins in cells to social networks to airline hubs and nodes. It was fascinating to learn how methods from theoretical physics can be used to study facebook friendships and relationships. Sergei then offered some relationship advice on how to become engaged and married to (or with) the right branch of science for all the aspiring academics in the audience and how to minimize your unhappiness. We finished the ceremony with a bonfire and ceremonial release of the Sigma Spirit.

By the end of the day we were mostly pretty well tired and so the hour or so of team time at the end  of the day came as a fun privilege. The teams and counselors shared their reasons for coming, what they bring to Sigma, and what they hope to learn and achieve while here. It’s safe to say that the day’s activities made us feel at home here at Silver Lake.