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Tips For PICOs

 

A PICO is the Person In Charge of the Olympiads — that’s you. Welcome to your first year with us.

Perhaps all mathematics developed from efforts to solve interesting problems. Children, like adults, love to test themselves against a challenge. That’s why things like crossword puzzles and checkers have been so popular for so many generations. We generate enthusiasm for math among students via our contest format and use it to present important math concepts in interesting contexts. The following suggestions are presented to help you maximize the effectiveness of the Math Olympiads.

 1.  GOALS OF THE OLYMPIADS

  • developing enthusiasm for problem solving and mathematics,
  • deepening the understanding of mathematical concepts and strengthen ability to use these concepts,
  • considering concepts that they might not otherwise encounter,
  • enriching experiences in intellectually stimulating and significant mental activities, and
  • building a stronger foundation for assessments and for future mathematics studies.

2.  PRACTICES

  • Download past Olympiads for practice problems.
    • The sample problems and problems-of-the-month are available to everyone online.
    • For another 50 problems with detailed solutions, you will need your password.
    • 1225 additional problems are available in our books Math Olympiad Contest Problems Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3, and Creative Problem Solving.
    • IMPORTANT! These are copyrighted materials. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES may the actual contests or the individual problems and/or solutions be published in any form, including the internet.
  • Practice at least 4 times before the first Olympiad.
    • Since our problems are decidedly not routine problems, students can be caught off-guard, and thereby become intimidated. To avoid this situation, the students must know what is expected of them. If this means that you must delay the first Olympiad, do so. Let your students experience all five Olympiads. 
  • Practice at least once a week for at least an hour.
    •  Studies show that short, frequent practices are more effective than long, infrequent practices in promoting retention of learned skills. 
  • Use cooperative groups for practices.
    • Students must compete individually on Olympiads, but practices are best done in small interactive groups. Assign problems one at a time, and allow each group to present its method of solution to the entire group.
  • Encourage students to present as many methods as possible.
    • Using multiple methods makes it clear that math is no more cut-and-dried than music. Our model solutions contain thoughtful approaches to every problem. If no student presents our approach, mention that another way exists and present ours.
    • Volume 1, 2, and 3 of our Math Olympiad Contest Problems contain a section of HINTS that may be just enough to spark students to discover a solution they might otherwise not have considered.
  • Keep the atmosphere gentle and non-threatening.
    • To us the contests are all about improving mathematical thinking and building a stronger foundation for future studies, but to students they’re about winning awards. We recommend that PICOs downplay the competitional aspects and promote personal growth instead. The most important thing is that students feel that they know something today that they did not know yesterday.
  • Assign homework.
    • Doing so increases the frequency of exposure to problems without eating up valuable class time. One method is to assign specific problems with full solutions and a due date. Let them grade themselves right or wrong, and at the deadline, tell you how many they had right. This keeps them on task and lets them take control of their progress.
  • Teach students to build a professional library.
    • This can have a huge impact on their futures. They can start by obtaining their own personal collection of problems. Our three books make a great beginning, but other works are available and worth hunting for.

 

3. REGISTERING STUDENTS ONLINE

  • Team ID.
    • Every team enrolled in Math Olympiads has a unique Team ID number. Schools with more than one team will have a different Team ID for each team.
    • Use the Team ID only for the team to which it was assigned.
  • Registering students.
    • Students need not be registered when the team is enrolled, but they must be registered before any contest results can be entered.
  • Accuracy of awards.
    • Every registered mathlete receives a Certificate of Participation. Half of all students nationally earn at least one award – a patch, pin, medallion, and/or trophy. We do not want to cheat any student out of an earned award. Thus, our records must maintain perfect correctness. It is critical that your recordkeeping be careful and correct.
    • We have developed the following procedure to guarantee such accuracy:
      1. List all students online before Olympiad 1. This list will become your scorekeeping record for the year. It allows you to keep accurate records as a check on our records and it allows us to reconstruct the list if needed.
      2. Do not change the ID for any student during the year. Add the names of new students who join later at the bottom of the list. Print out a copy after every entry for your records.
      3.  Adding a student online: Use "Edit Student List" button. Add the name of a new student on the bottom of your list. If the student has been competing under test conditions, but unofficially, include which problems he or she had correct on prior contests.
      4. If a student is dropped from the team, no change needs to be made. Mark that student as ABS for all following contests. Only if the roster is full (35 mathletes) and a new student replaces one who left, contact MOEMS and let us make the change.

4. ADMINISTERING THE OLYMPIAD CONTESTS

  • Download the contests.
    • Your contests will be available online one week before the scheduled Olympiad date.
    • You will need your password to access the contests.
    • Print out enough copies of the questions for all the students.
    • An answer sheet is provided for your convenience.
    • If the two sheets are printed back-to-back, student answers will remain covered.
  • Print out one copy of the solutions.
    • Only YOU should see the solutions until after the contest is given.
  • Review "Organization and Procedures" and all other materials in the "All Teams - Startup".
    • The contests must be given under strict test conditions.
    • IMPORTANT! These are copyrighted materials. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES may the actual contests or the individual problems and/or solutions be published in any form, including the internet.
5. PREPARING FOR AWARDS
  • The final results of all contests must be entered online on or before March 31st
    • The Online Scoring System will close on that date.
    • Score changes received ater that date will have to be entered manually by the MOEMS office and will be processed based on the results submitted up until March 31.
    • Simply stated, completed awards packages for those teams will not be sent out until after June 1.
  • You will receive your awards during May and early June.
    • Awards will be sent based on the state closing date, earlier closing dates being sent first.
    • Please allow time for delivery before scheduling your awards ceremony.

6. HELPFUL HINTS FOR ALL PICOS

  • Many experienced PICOs over many years have shared their techniques for effective coaching. These tips can help you organize your team or club well. Use the "Tried and True" hints from our PICO's