


Do not connect Math Olympiad to grades. It’s a learning opportunity. If you are restrained by your school district’s budget, you might consider approaching a parent organization, professional engineering group, or local corporation about sponsoring a team. The $90 to sponsor a team of 30 students is a great deal. A team can be formed from ANY grouping of your students  just follow MO divisions E and M guidelines. Keep sponsors informed of your progress. Expect students to use an organization system to keep all their MO materials together. Some teachers provide a pocket folder. If the system involves a binder, always 3hole punch MO papers for them. Punch the problem side of contests, not the answer side. Expect students to share their MO contests with parents at conference/evaluation time. Whenever possible, show contest problems to parents and principals. Introduce students to Math Olympiad by giving them a practice contest on day ONE, using fullblown test conditions (scratch paper, timed, privacy screens). Except: walk around the class, whisper: “Good job! You got one right!” (But don’t tell them which one!) It drives them bananas. Gets their attention. Discourages both overconfidence and doodling on their scratch paper during all of their “extra time”. During a real contest, of course, you will be silently proctoring and not communicating with students. Devote at least 1 hour a week for MO practice. Doing even 23 past contest problems individually and as a group really helps develop the strong thinking habits. Consult the “Hints” on the PICO tab at the www.moems.org to vary practice strategies. (PICO stands for Person In Charge of Olympiad). I especially recommend the “Group activity to coach by (and kids love it!)“ that can be found there. It’s a relay race that’s well worth the teacher preparation time. Week before contest: Log into the MO website from the PICO home page. Run off master copy of the contest problems, student answer page, and the answer key from website. Add a line on the answer sheet for students to write their names. (That way, they don’t need to write their name in every answer square). Copy the problem and answer pages backtoback. If needed, 3hole punch problem side of the paper. Put contests in a manila envelope. Seal. Make a big deal of opening the envelope on contest day. Distribute contests answer side up. “Don’t turn your page over until the timer starts.” Have students use “privacy screens” (e.g. notebooks standing up) to discourage wandering eyes Invest in a class set of mechanical pencils that are used only during the contests. Distribute “power pencils” to encourage “power thinking”. It’s a potent psychological boost. Provide plenty of scratch paper. Staple scratch paper to the contest so that later on, they can analyze their own thought processes. Write ending time on the board. In addition, use a timer and announce “5 more minutes”. Writing an educated guess in the answer square is better than leaving it blank. Time’s up: students form a line to turn in power pencils. You staple their scratch paper to their contest papers. Record results on a class list. Specify which questions the student got correct (e.g. Sam Smith A, B, E). Use the class list to input scores online from your PICO home page. Always print out the online results for your files. Have absent students take the Olympiad ASAP, preferably before others go over answers. Do not report their scores, however. Give “pep talk” before handing back student contests. “The best way to improve is to practice.” “There is a reason why they call this the Math Olympiad .” “This is a learning opportunity.” Encourage many different ways to solve the problem. Follow “Reviewing the Contest: Dynamic Group Presentations” procedure to go over contest. Share contest statistics with class. The statistics link is located on a tab at the top of the PICO home page. You might want to edit what you share: E or M divisions, not both. Also, you might want to omit the gender data. I recommend presenting both the data for each problem (e.g. 45% of fifth graders got problem C correct) and for the entire Olympiad (e.g. 35% of all sixth graders got 2/5 problems correct). Encourage students to interpret the statistics in a personal way: “I must not be so bad  only 23% of fifth graders got that one right!” or “Wow! Only 34% of sixth graders got 3 or more problems correct and I’m one of them! Cool!” Ask students to keep their own scores totaled throughout the competition, as well as from year to year. In May, you will receive the awards package that includes certificates for participants, a trophy for the top scorer, plus pins and patches earned by individuals. Team certificates and plaques are also included. Who gets what is clearly provided in the team summary roster. For example, students scoring 812 problems correct get a certificate and a patch. Those scoring 816 problems get a certificate, a patch and silver pin. A certificate, patch, and gold pin go to students earning 1724 points. Personalize the trophy by using a label maker. The cutoff ranges are determined by percentages of all students taking the Math Olympiad, so the ranges will differ from year to year. Be sure that students understand the award system. Use the publicity packet provided to spread the good news. If possible, give out awards at a school ceremony. Read a sample problem aloud so the audience appreciates the level of difficulty
Just
a Little More Competition to Stimulate Review
by Nora Guseman Fifth Grade Teacher
Solana Pacific
Thank you for your stellar program. This is my third year coaching a 5th grade team through my leveled math class and I feel like I am finally in the swing of things. I just wanted to share a strategy I am using, just as I have benefitted from those that other PICO's have shared via your site (specifically the celebratory Treasure Hunt!)
This year, I noticed that my students, though extremely talented in mathematics, were not very enthused about going over our Math Olympiad problems. While I normally emphasize cooperation, I felt these students would thrive with a little more competition. So I'm balancing the two with a team game. We use this method in an ongoing way, whether we are practicing or reviewing the solutions after a contest. Best of all, it seems to be working!
Set up: Administer the contest according to directions. Students select and name teams of 34 players. Teacher records the team name and members on an index card. Within their team, they must each have a number (14) and an appointed scorekeeper.
To Play:
The
level of participation and enthusiasm has increased. The mix of individual
accountability and teamwork is appropriate, and the random selection
keeps everyone tuned in. Furthermore, this system conveys that I believe
they are all capable of tackling these problems. They are rising to
the challenge!
Mathletes
in Training
by Jacklyn Benner, Pointers Run Elementary
School
Is it an accident that our students are called "Mathletes"? I think not! Just like "Athletes" our "Mathletes" have to prepare for a "meet" by limbering up and training.
As athletes prepare for an athletic event, they PRACTICE SKILLS specific to the event in which they will participate. They work, study and refine their performance. Just before the competition, they become limber as they WARM UP their bodies. Then, DURING THE EVENT, they prepare themselves mentally and come up with a plan for success. AFTER THE COMPETITION, they review their performance, celebrate strengths and work on areas in which they need to improve. Mathletes need the same type of preparation when the event is the Math Olympiad.
On the night before each Math Olympiad, my group of Mathletes LIMBER UP with a standard homework assignment:
HOMEWORK: Mathletes! Tomorrow is our next Mathematical Olympiad! As you know, the brain muscle must be warmed up just like the "regular" muscles. To get ready for the Math Olympiad, I need you to review the skills you have addressed in your "training." Then, you'll know what skills you have available to work with during the Math Olympiads. Here's what you need to do for homework tonight: 1) LIST SKILLS you need to review. Then do a few problems to get yourself in shape. Either check these problems with a calculator or with an adult. If you made an error, write an explanation of the EXACT ERROR YOU MADE next to that problem.

We open Olympiad Day with a discussion of the activities the students did the night before to prepare. This act of sharing in the Olympiad arena helps set the stage for the challenge ahead. It is the final mental warm up and extends the limbering up from the night before into the daylight. Believe me, I learn new things each time from my students! When I let the students self select activities as they limber up before an Olympiad, these Mathletes usually go far beyond any homework I would have assigned.
Taking part
in a systematic training program and limbering up before the Big Event help
our students prepare for the challenges offered by the Mathematical Olympiads
… as well as challenges our students will face throughout their lives.
Letter
from a veteran PICO to a beginning PICO
Letter from veteran PICO Tricia Rothenberg
(Georgetown, TX) to new PICO Shary Horn (Alvin, TX) answering her three
questions.
Hi, Shary,
I'm so glad you are planning to begin the Math Olympiad program! Here are my answers to your questions. If you have more now or as you implement the program, I'd love to answer those, also!
This is just the way we are using the problems in Georgetown. I'm sure there are many other ways to implement the program!
1. How do your teachers use the problems during their class time?
Our teachers give the students 3 Math Olympiads problems to solve per week. The problems are chosen from the book of past Math Olympiads problems entitled Math Olympiad Contest Problems for Elementary and Middle Schools by Dr. G. Lenchner, which can be ordered using the form in your handout from CAMT, or by going to http://store.moems.org/ . We have selected a set of about 108 of these nonroutine problems for each grade level so the students work different problems each year. Naturally, some of the problems are more difficult than others, so we have tried to use the easier ones for 4th grade, etc. The problems were initially chosen and then tried in the classroom, and then we did a bit of refinement to our problem sets as we found that some were too difficult or too easy for a certain grade level.
Generally, teachers present the problems, either all 3 on Monday or one a day MonWed, and give the students some class time (first individually, and later in the week, usually with a partner) to make sense of the problems and perhaps get a bit of assistance when needed via clarifying or scaffolding questions from the teacher. After students have more experience with these challenging, genuine problems, some teachers allow students to work on them at home, also.
It is always good to have a note to send home to help parents understand that the purpose of the Math Olympiads problems is to give students experiences with genuine problem solving, in other words, using a problem solving model involving making sense of the problem; selecting, developing, and using problemsolving strategies; and evaluating their solutions for reasonableness and accuracy, etc.
We encourage teachers to use this body of Math Olympiads nonroutine problems as mathematical experiences OUT of the context of a formal lesson. While they can also make good problems to use as the basis of a great lesson a very good use of them we want to have a body of nonroutine problems that is used across the district for students to be able to do genuine problemsolving where we have not "shown them how to do it."
Students write up their solutions to these problems. They start out explaining their understanding of the problem, how they solved it, what worked and what did not work and why, and why they believe that their answer is reasonable. Students are preparing for writing more formal proofs in their high school years. Some teachers have spirals or journals for this, and some keep portfolios (folders) of each student's problem solving writeups.
VERY IMPORTANT: Teachers encourage MULTIPLE SOLUTIONS to the same problem, which will naturally happen when students are given these challenging problems and not told which strategy to use. This makes possible rich discourse COMMUNICATION about the problems. Students (usually with different strategies) present to the class their solution strategies, and learn to talk fluently and clearly about mathematics and defend with mathematical reasoning and facts their solutions. They learn to listen to each other and to be flexible in their thinking about problems. Generally, teachers set aside time each week for students to present the three problems of the week. It is very common for students to not get the right answer, and we really emphasize that the most important thing is the student's THINKING and COMMUNICATION, and his use of the PROBLEM SOLVING PROCESS. That is what we teach using Math Olympiads problems. We also like "right answers," but in the creative problem solving process, and with children grappling with complex problems, right answers do not always happen. With more experience with the problems, they will get more accurate. At the end of the problemsolving discussion of each problem, the teacher ties the solution strategies together, possibly asking children to analyze the similarities and differences of the solution strategies presented, and with a discussion of the important mathematical concepts she wants to emphasize in the problems.
We have found that the Math Olympiads problems provide a worthwhile and challenging way to review mathematics children have previously learned and use it in a meaningful way, to develop their own meaningful solution strategies, and to preview concepts that they will learn formally later on.
ALSO teachers give students an opportunity to participate in the Math Olympiads contest which happens twice in the Fall (Nov. and Dec.) and three times in the Spring (Jan.  Mar.). The contests take about 30 minutes to take, and then students are given the opportunity to discuss how they solved them. We feel that students' presenting their solution strategies is a very important part of using these nonroutine problems in the classroom. We have engendered quite a bit of excitement about the problems with the contest. Many students will receive awards in this contest all students receive a certificate, for example.
Teachers use rubrics, checklists, completion grades, etc. when/if they grade the Math Olympiads problems.
2. How is it used after school hours?
In grades 6  8, we have used the Grades 78 Math Olympiads contest at an afterschool math team/club. Students learn to solve challenging nonroutine problems, take practice Math Olympiads tests, and take the tests either during lunch recess or after school at math team. Also, as I mentioned above, in conjunction with their classroom M.O. problem solving, students often write up their solutions at home as homework.
3. Any thing else that will help.
You and the other teachers (and possibly the best students) can "attend" the series online Math Olympiads 1hour workshops (free) coming up this school year. You can register at www.artofproblemsolving.com and then look at the schedule of "Math Jams" (you'll see a "tab" at the top of the webpage that says Math Jams) to see when all the Math Olympiads Jam sessions are to be.
Also, the online system of registering students, recording scores, and printing off the tests and solutions has been VERY userfriendly and easy to use!
Best wishes to you! Keep in touch and let me know how it's going with Math Olympiads and other issues in your district!
Tricia
Reviewing
contest problems and learning from them
by PICO Elizabeth Sadqi, Pine Crest
Elementary, Silver Spring, Maryland
I am the PICO for a team of 4th and 5th graders. On any given contest, we have students scoring from 0 to 5. We always spend time reviewing (contest) problems. I have found it best to NOT reveal students' scores until AFTER we review problems. If, for example, one student knows that she scored a perfect "5," she might not really participate in resolving and explaining her work with others. At the same time, if another student knows that he earned a 0, he might be too frustrated to really participate in the activities.
As we all know, the contest problems are challenging. Many of my 5th graders begin to recognize patterns and apply formulas to the problems. Oral explanations of their work become more sophisticated. However, we always have students who do not understand application of formulas or who are really stumped on a problem for spatial or other reasons. I now have students ACT out certain problems. It is timeconsuming but quite fun and very enlightening!
So far this winter we have "acted out" contest problems involving an ant walking along the edges of a cube. I gave the students nets of a cube to cut out and tape together. Then, I gave them all colored markers a dark color and a light color. They started tracing the ant's movement with the light marker. If they overlapped vertices, they would start over with a darker marker. After tracing and talking with teammates, all of the students understood that the correct answer was 8 meters.
We also acted
out problem involving fast and slow watches. The students worked in groups
of 3. Each student had a small Judy clock to manipulate. One student kept
the accurate time, one kept the slow watch, and one kept the fast watch.
They moved their clock hands in unison, recorded times as they went along,
and came up with the correct answer of 1:00 pm! It was a long process, which
required much concentration by the students, but everyone was able to participate,
regardless of their math ability. Every student moved a clock, participated
in recording time tables, and contributed toward an accurate solution.
How
To Coach Olympiad Kids (O.K.’S)
by Betty Jorgensen,
a PICO since 198485, Cambridge Elementary School, Cambridge, NE
(Note: Betty Jorgensen retired in 2004 after 20 years as a PICO. Her plans, even in retirement, include promoting the Math Olympiads.)
Math
Olympiad problems usually involve some problemsolving strategies that are
not a regular part of the elementary math curriculum. Hence, a certain
amount of frustration can result from students who are not familiar with
them. Here is what I did to handle the situation.
1.
Scheduled weekly practice sessions for about an hour one day a week after
school. Encouraged students to attend, but attendance was not required.
I found students more willing to participate if it was their choice.
2.
Each session dealt with a certain kind of problem and strategies, formulas, rules, logic,
etc. that might be useful in solving these problems. Dr. George Lenchner’s Creative Problem Solving In School Mathematics
is very helpful for developing each unit and for providing sample problems.
3.
In
practice sessions, students worked
in groups of two or three students. I encouraged them to discuss
strategies and solutions among themselves before asking me whether an answer
was right or wrong. This focuses on the method rather than the solution.
4.
About
half the time we did a set of five
“Olympiadstyle” problems from Dr. Lenchner's book during the
last 30 minutes of the session.
5.
I
urged students to draw pictures
for the given facts in a problem.
6.
I
suggested that students try solving
a simpler problem or making a table of results. Then they could look
for a pattern or rule to solve a problem with larger numbers.
7.
I
acted out a problem and observe
the results.
8.
I
did some logical thinking and tried to estimate the answer before beginning
to work.
9.
I
always complimented and encouraged students; and welcomed different methods
of arriving at a solution.
10.
Following
each official Olympiad, we discussed the problems and solutions, and I answered
questions concerning why some answers were not acceptable.
Guidelines
For Cooperative Group Members
This is part of an article which appeared in the May 1988
issue of the Arithmetic Teacher.
1.
You are responsible for your own work and behavior.
2.
You must be willing to help any group member who asks (for
help).
3.
You may ask the teacher for help only when everyone in your
group has the same question.
The third rule often puts the greatest
demand on teachers when first implementing cooperative groups. Children
typically ask for individual help. Asking children to check with their group,
rather than giving them help at that time, is not a usual teacher response.
However it is an invaluable response for encouraging students to become
more independent and to rely on each other. Assure students that you will
come and discuss whatever problems the entire group faces.
How Large Should Groups Be?
A cooperative group requires no magic
number of children to work. At some times, students work best in pairs,
although groups of three to six students are successful in other situations.
What is important is that groups be small enough for all students to participate.
How to Group
Students.
It is important for students to be
willing to work and learn with all their classmates. Grouping students randomly
accomplishes this objective.
1.
Students
can move their desks into clusters of four each. The teacher labels each
cluster with the number of a playing card ace,
two, three and so on. The corresponding cards are shuffled and distributed;
children with aces go to the aces cluster, children with twos to the cluster labeled two, and so forth.
2.
Numbered
slips can be drawn from a hat to determine random groupings of either three
or four students.
A Caution
Seating students in small groups does
not magically produce instant successful cooperative group work. Practice,
encouragement, and discussion are required, but it is well worth the effort.”
A
group activity to coach by
(and kids love it!)
by PICO Debbie Escobar,
1.
Divide the team, or let them divide themselves, into
teams of four. Give
each team a number or let them choose a name for the team.
2.
Make enough copies of an old Olympiad contest for each
of the teams. If
you have six teams, make six copies.
3.
Cut
the problems up. Place the six copies
of each problem into its own envelope.
4.
Explain
to the students that this is a relay race. When you distribute the
first problem, the whole team should
work cooperatively on it. Once they feel certain they have a correct
answer, one member of the team should come to you with it.
5.
Keep
a scoring sheet that has a short column for each team. When the first team
to bring you a correct answer checks in, give them 10 points. (5 for correct
answer, 5 for speed). The second team gets 9, the third gets 8, and
so on. The worst any group with the right answer can get is 5. As soon as a team has given the right answer
to you, give them the second problem.
6.
Keep handing out the new problems as soon as a team
checks in with the right answer, until you go through all five problems.
7.
Occasionally
I will get a group that begins taking stabs in the dark. If this happens
a lot, you might insist on seeing
the calculation work on paper, or limit the number of times the groups
can come back with an answer. (I’d only do
this as a last resort)
8.
Save some time at end of class to go over problems that seemed to cause difficulty for
the teams.
1.
Team Identification Numbers (TID)
Team Identification
Numbers (TID) Each team entered in the Olympiads has its own unique
fourdigit TID, which you received by email with your password. Our
computers locate your records strictly by TID. Different teams in
the same school have different TIDs. Some PICOs also like to assign
the letters A, B, C, or the numbers 5, 6, 7, 8, etc. to different team names
(which also enables our staff to resolve errors quickly). However, the
letter may not be used in place of the fourdigit TID.
2.
Password
Use the TID
and password to access your team records, contest and practice problems,
and uptodate statistics. Each PICO can access only his or her own team
records.
Passwords are randomly assigned. For your convenience, you can change
it to one easier to remember. Teams that have the same PICO and email
address are linked (grouped together) so that entering the password once
with any TID allows access to all linked teams.
3.
Entering Student Names
Most
PICOs prefer to enter team members in alphabetical order. Clearly, you must
enter each student's name before you enter his or her scoring. To enter
the names, you MUST press the "Submit" button on the bottom of
the screen. NEVER CHANGE A STUDENT'S LINE NUMBER, or that child's scoring
will be assigned to another child. This can result in several students not
receiving the correct awards.
Enter "late joiners" at the bottom of the list. Enter all scores for a particular student next to the name ONLY.
IMPORTANT: Never delete a student's name. Let us do it. Just contact us with all the information.
4.
Adding and Subtracting Names
(a) To add a student to your roster: Enter the name
on your team roster at the bottom of the list. Do not move names down.
(b) To remove a student from your roster: Give us the
school name and TID, the student’s name and SID, grade and gender. We have
offline records also to correct.
(c) To replace one student by another: Follow both directions
(a) and (b) above.
First select
the correct Olympiad. Then use checkmarks to indicate correct responses.
For absent students, check the absence box. Leaving all boxes unchecked
means that the student tried all problems with no correct answers. To
enter your data, you MUST press the "Submit" button on the bottom of the
screen. If a student's answer is different from ours, but results
from a fatal flaw in the problem or is the result of a different, valid
interpretation of the problem, mark it wrong and follow the Appeals process
(see item 6). You can correct or change a score online at any time up until
the end of March.
6.
Appeals (see Item 5)
Mark the
student wrong and tell us in print the mathematical basis for granting credit.
Include the team name and TID and the student name. To get
credit, the student's work must be completely correct, the reasoning must
be entirely consistent with the question and with "What Every Young Mathlete
Shound Know." You will be sent the judges' decision either through the newsletter
or by private communication. If an appeal is granted, all students who had
that answer should be given credit. See item 5.
7.
Communication
Place your TID
and return address on all communications to MOEMS.
8.
Checking your Scores
Even with online
recording, errors in scoring can occur. To guarantee correct scores — and
therefore correct awards — each team receives a printout of its student
scoring for the first two Olympiads as stored in our computer along with
the January Newsletter. Correcting small errors at this point prevents them
from mushrooming into bigger errors at awards time. Later, each team receives
a printout of its student scoring for all five Olympiads as reported to
us along with the April Newsletter. Corrections at this point, done promptly,
are imperative if students are to receive the correct awards.
One means of building team spirit is
to ask every member of the team to wear a Math Olympiad Tshirt, and/or
cap to each contest. You might even want to arrange to have the name of
the school and perhaps the word mathlete, your
team roster, or the year printed on the back. The enclosed form describes
our Tshirts, caps, pennants, rulerpens and bumper stickers. These are
now available as part of our fundraising campaign.
Some PICOs order class sets of our book, Mathematical Olympiad Contest
Problems for Elementary and Middle Schools, and allow the students to
take them home. Others ask children to buy a copy to help them start to
build a personal library. These PICOs feel that a child who has the book
is often more likely to continue to work independently, getting a lot more
out of the material than the child who does nothing more than attend practices.
A marvelous way to build enthusiasm and selfassurance is to help a child
feel competent; with extra practice, time usually develops those qualities.
Building Team Spirit
by Donald Costantino, PICO at
“Through school fund raisers at my two schools, we have been
able to purchase Olympiad shirts for every member of our grades 4 and 5
teams. Students are charged up for meet day by preannouncing a group
plan to wear their shirts on that day. We further recognize students'
efforts by heralding their names in the main hall. We list meet dates
and the school's highscoring students for each meet. This allows
for miniexcitements rather than waiting for the yearly summaries.”
No student
names or scores are released:
1.
We do not release the standing of any team or individual. Only the school contact person, the
PICO (if they are different people), and our staff see contest results.
There is one exception: we publish Honor Roll lists in May. Even there,
lists are alphabetical by category, without ranking.
2.
We do not release the score of any team or student to anyone other than the PICO. The
only exception is also the Honor Roll, in which the names of students who
achieved a perfect score for the full year are listed.
3.
We
do not sell or give our mailing lists to anyone. However, if a new or prospective
PICO asks which schools in the area participate, we may help them out.
For beginning
Mathletes, especially fourth graders, we recommend that the PICO tell the
students that this is their training year: it takes time to learn how to
handle problems; scoring develops from sustained effort; they are learning
how to look at a situation more than one way, and how to read for meaning.
If an appeal
is accepted, then all students who had that answer should get credit. It
does not matter if they worked it out or just guessed. To give a student
credit, drop us a note or email which includes the team name and fourdigit
TID, the student name and twodigit SID, and the problem number.
We recommend
that you hold a special school function for presenting
awards. This puts a “cap” on the year for your students.
As suggested in the March newsletter, some formats for presenting awards
are:
1.
A special school assembly to which the parents are invited.
2.
A Board of Education meeting to which the parents of Olympians are invited.
3.
An evening reception for parents (especially desirable when one or both
parents work).
4.
A team picnic or barbeque.
Ask one of the following to talk on the importance of mathematics or problem
solving: Superintendent of Schools, Principal, Board of Education member,
PTA President, or Mathematics Supervisor.
One of our PICOs has special plans for awards. You may want to consider
it for your students. She gives special awards to the three students in
each grade level who have the highest scores. She affixes a gold seal (available
in stationery stores) to one of the corners of their certificates. The Art
teacher prints each student’s name,
grade, and distinction in calligraphy.
Another PICO intersperses old Math Olympiad questions between
awards during the ceremony, allowing her mathletes
to shine in front of their parents.
After the Season
is Over . . .
The March
Olympiad should not signal the end of student practice for the rest of the
school year. We hope that PICOs will use the remainder of the school year
to continue to help all Olympians to develop their natural abilities and
grow into their potential.
Many PICOs continue to practice with their Mathletes in order
to build for next year. Some PICOs ask each returning child to set a personal
goal, and then use the practices to train for that goal. A surprising number
of youngsters are ambitious and eager enough to tackle problem collections
on their own. All they need is the suggestion, and problem sets to take
home.
This is a good time to:
1.
Teach new topics such as continued fractions, divisibility, sequences and
series, logic, mathematical shorthand, etc. (See Creative Problem Solving
in School Mathematics),
2.
Present problems from previous years (See Mathematical Olympiad Contest
Problems for Elementary and Middle Schools), and
3.
Introduce variations and extensions of this year’s problems. When
a problem is varied and extended, the student’s understanding deepens
significantly. Older problems could also be extended.
A marvelous
yearlong activity should never fade away. A strong finish provides closure
and underlines the importance for children, parents, and the educational
community.
Why not make special arrangements to present Olympiad Awards to your Mathletes?
Each school will receive a certificate for every student and a trophy for
the highest scorer of the team providing
the school has registered its students and has submitted at least one score
sheet.
Some recommended formats are:
1.
A special school assembly to which parents are invited.
2.
A Board of Education meeting to which the parents of Olympians
are invited.
3.
An evening reception for parents (especially desirable when
one or both parents work).
4.
A team picnic or barbeque.
Ask one of the following to talk on the importance of mathematics or problem
solving: Principal, Superintendent of Schools, Board of Education member,
PTA President, or Mathematics Supervisor.
by Joann Arnett, A.L. Lotts ES,
For several years
when all testing is over, I have created a Treasure Hunt for my Math Olympiad
students. This is what we do for our party. The students love it and each
year ask if we are going to have our “Treasure Hunt”.
I take old Math Olympiad problems and adjust the numbers to equal a room
number in the school (with permission from the teacher who has that room).
I place stickers in that room. The student must solve the problem, go to
the room, and get the sticker. There are nine problems and they have 30
minutes to work. The first one back to the starting point wins a special
prize.
Students are given a calculator and work in pairs. Parents monitor the halls
and help. After the 30 minutes, the students return. They are given a small
piece of candy for each sticker. Then the parents prepare refreshments (usually
ice cream sundaes).
Since I have two teams, the stickers are coded by
color or subject to keep them separate. I have two sets of treasure problems:
one for fourth grade, one for fifth.
It is a lot of fun to watch their enthusiasm as they work; I’ve seen them drop to the floor as they
thought of a way to solve the problem. Also, it is interesting to see the
different strategies and teamwork.
Scavenger Hunts
By Debbie Escobar
Another idea I
have used is a problem scavenger hunt, but you need either adult or older
student helpers to make it work. Find problems that indicate a place or
subject that would correspond to a location in the school. For example,
a problem that mentions sewing might relate to the Home Ec
room; or a problem asking about page numbers in a book might be hinting
at the library. I found several of these in the old olympiad tests. For each problem, make enough copies
for all teams and find a helper to be posted somewhere in the school and
give them out. Sites should correspond to the previous problem in
the scavenger hunt, and give a hint as to where the next location will be.
The helper should stand with the problem during the scavenger hunt to make
sure teams don’t cheat by stealing the other copies
of the problem so other teams can’t find it. Give helpers the correct answer to the problem (if
you can trust them not to assist friends) and ask them to check off or initial
the problem to indicate teams achieved the right answer at that location.
(otherwise you will have teams running from site
to site grabbing problems without solving them oneatatime in group work.)
Divide students into groups of three or four. Begin at your olympiad meeting by giving them a
problem that hints at another location in the building. They solve
the problem successfully, you check it, and they figure out where to go
next from the clues in the problem. At the next site, they solve the
problem successfully, get it checked by the helper (helper initials) and
figure out where to go next. For example, if the problem at a station
set up in the gym mentions sewing, students would go to sewing room next.
At the end of the hunt, the first team to come back to you with all of the
problems checked off or initialed by helpers is the winner. Tell students
they must end the hunt at a specific time and come back to you even if they
haven’t finished all the problems.
Mathematical Dissections
by Jacklyn
Benner, Pointer’s
After each
Olympiad, I like to do an item analysis of the performance of my teams.
As a class, we create a fraction that shows the number of students on the
team that were correct on each question. We convert the fraction to
a percentage for further analysis.
We then discuss each question in order of greatest to least need.
That is, we begin to discuss the problem on which the least number of students
were correct and finish with the problem on
which most of the class was correct.
The students become the teachers as they show each other how they solved
the question under discussion. In this way, classmates
learn from each other how to solve the problems in fourth or fifth grade
vocabulary. I distribute the “Answers and Solutions” written by the Olympiad mathematicians themselves to expose
the students to an “adult” solution method. We review the
adult technique. These are usually understood since the
students have a welldeveloped background of solution techniques. After
our discussions, the students could have 28 different methods to solve one
problem!
Next, we discuss what the problem solver had to know in order to solve each
problem correctly. The students then record this on a “Self Analysis” paper and address in what ways they
might improve their own performance on each particular problem.
When the Newsletter arrives with the statistics for the last Olympiad,
we compare our class results with the “Percent Correct for Grade and Problem” just for fun. The
students really enjoy predicting whether they “beat the average fourth / fifth grader” as I reveal the number of students
who were correct on each problem.
In this classroom, the students enjoy the “mathematical dissection” of each Olympiad problem and celebrate their gain of knowledge.
Andrea Nordquist sent in the following article from her school’s
newspaper.
“The Joseph C. Fox Latin School of Kellenberg Memorial High School held its very first Math Olympiad
overnight retreat on Friday March 8^{th} to Saturday the 9^{th}.
32 students and Mrs. Nordquist, Miss Phillips,
and Danny Griffin played games, made a delicious pasta dinner (we even cut
the peppers in geometric shapes), and tried to score points during a basketball
challenge.One of the highlights of the evening was when Mrs.
Nordquist showed an original Showtime movie called
“The Red Sneakers”. At first we thought we were going
to have to sit through a dull math movie, but it was great! It showed the
importance of math, especially in basketball, why math is important for
college, and to be yourself, and not depend on magic to succeed in life.
A great time was had by all.”
A Math Retreat What a lovely idea! Editor