FAQ

What is a typical day at SPARC like?
We have four to five hours of classes or activities each day, and an invited speaker many evenings. The rest of the time students generally relax, talk with each other and the instructors, or participate in optional activities.

Classes last about an hour, and are taught in groups of 6-8 students. Most classes are discussion-based, though some are more traditional lectures and others are centered on exercises.

What is taught at SPARC?
It’s easier to show than tell, but topics at SPARC include:

  • Probability theory, information theory, the mathematics of rationality
  • Fermi estimation, statistical street fighting, risk and power laws
  • Microeconomics, prediction markets, game theory
  • Effective communication, improvisation, posture, negotiation
  • Regression, graphical models, causal modeling
  • Motivation and intention, deliberate practice, cognitive biases

How do I apply?
Applications are available here. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at contact@sparc-camp.org.

Should I apply to SPARC if I don’t know [X]?
Yes. The SPARC curriculum mostly requires curiosity, thoughtfulness, and a sharp mind. The mathematical requirement can be challenging but is not the basis for the entire application. Some classes are taught in several tracks to accommodate students’ varying backgrounds.

How many people will be accepted?
SPARC will admit about 30 students.

Who is eligible to apply?
You must be at least 14 years of age. You must also have not yet finished your first year of college. (update 1/2018: we are experimenting this year with college freshmen applicants; historically we only took high school students or students who have not yet spent a semester in college) If you do not meet these criteria but would still like to come, please e-mail us at contact@sparc-camp.org to discuss exceptions. International students are welcome.

How much does the camp cost?
In order to attract the best students possible, SPARC is completely free. In particular, boarding and food is provided.

Need-based scholarships to cover the cost of travel are also available (you’ll have the chance to apply for one if you’re admitted to SPARC).

When and where will the camp be held?
SPARC 2018 will be hosted at California State University, East Bay, and will run from July 22nd through August 3rd.

How is SPARC funded?
SPARC’s receives the majority of its funding from the Open Philanthropy Project.

The Open Philanthropy Project identifies outstanding giving opportunities, makes grants, follows the results, and publishes its findings. Its mission is to give as effectively as it can and share the findings openly so that anyone can build on them (source).

SPARC has also received grants from the Future of Life Institute.

FLI works to catalyze and support research and initiatives for safeguarding life and developing optimistic visions of the future, including positive ways for humanity to steer its own course considering new technologies and challenges (source).

Have a question that wasn’t answered here? E-mail us at contact@sparc-camp.org.