NMSS is a program for the discovery and development of mathematically gifted and talented high school students from all over Australia. Participation is normally restricted to about 75 students who have completed Year 11 in school.
During NMSS, students participate in a number of courses on different branches of mathematics not typically studied as part of the school curriculum. Each course is delivered in a series of lectures and small-group tutorials. Private study in the evening also gives students time to puzzle over problems and absorb what they have learned during the day.
The main course is Number Theory, which is studied in depth over the two weeks. Other courses which each run for one week vary from year to year and have in the past included:
- Chaos Theory
- Knot Theory
- Languages and Automata
- Projective Geometry
Other aspects of the NMSS academic program include:
- The Academy Lecture, presented by a member of the Australian Academy of Science at The Shine Dome.
- A lecture by an invited NMSS alumnus.
- A visit to Mount Stromlo.
- Informal careers Q&A sessions.
- Mathematical relay events.
During their free time each day, students may organise their own activities, whether within the college common rooms, elsewhere on campus, or in the city centre.
Activities which are organised by NMSS include:
- A visit to Black Mountain Tower.
- Visits to a selection of national attractions including the National Museum of Australia, Australian War Memorial, Questacon Science Centre, National Art Gallery of Australia, and Old and New Parliament House.
- A formal dinner and concert on the final night.
Accommodation and meals are provided by John XXIII College, a residential college of The Australian National University.