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Math Challengers 2014

March 9, 2014

I had the pleasure of attending Math Challengers again this year at both the regional and the provincial level. Our grade 8 and grade 9 teams at SMUS did very well locally with one a first and third place finish at grade 8 and a first place finish at grade 9.

While I am extremely proud of our first place finishers I was most impressed with our third place team at the regionals. The team was composed of 4 grade 6 students and one grade 8 student. It was a real joy to see the look on the grade 6 students after they found out they were in third place. I was also impressed with the grade 8 student who was willing to join a team with the grade 6 students. I thought this was a real generous act and showed leadership on her part. The fact that she did well enough to go to the provincial contest was a just reward.

At the provincial level our teams did not do as well. No one placed in the top ten positions. I expect that this is partly because we do not practice as much as many of the other teams. Once a week seems to be the most we can manage but these area always great opportunities to get together to talk about mathematcs, make connections and solve problems that we would not normally address in class.

Regardless of how well our team finished our team members and coaches learned a lot over the course of the day. Listening to students talk about mathematics was a real treat for me. As teachers we often hear the negative talk around mathematics. Students in classes can often fall into the “I can’t do it” trap rather than following a path of discovery and figuring out how to do it. Not all problems are easy and I think this is what separates the math challengers students apart. Just as an athlete must sharpen his skills so too must these mathletes.

I encourage all educators in BC to establish teams of mathletes, attend regional competitions and hopefully go to provincials. If this is not possible due to costs or geography look at opportunities within districts to establish competions. Students love it and it helps promote mathematics.

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