Math Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools

October/November, 2020

1. MESSAGE FROM OUR DIRECTOR

Dear PICO,

 

Welcome to the 2020 – 2021 MOEMS contest year, our 42nd year of giving you the opportunity to excite your students, energize your teaching, and enrich your curriculum. As you might know, last year was a “different” year for MOEMS…one in which over 5,000 teams participated in our monthly contests! As of this writing, it looks like we will be registering fewer teams this year due to the uncertainties created by the Covid-19 pandemic. We are truly excited for the fun to begin, especially our OnLine option, and to see what happens as the year unfolds. April 2021 will be an exciting time for us to see what scores our mathletes will need to reach the top two, ten or fifty percent of the students who will participate from every state and about thirty-five countries around the world. To say that we love what we do for our 8th grade and lower grade students is an understatement. Jeanne, Dot, Dennis, Dorothy, Jim and I are standing by to help you in any way possible by answering your questions and addressing your concerns. I am also asking that if you have some news event or activity that you would like to share with our MOEMS family via our website and social media, just send it to Jim (jdoliner@moems.org) or Dennis (dennis@moems.org) so one of those guys can get that news out there!

 

Our results page (accessible by signing in to our secure site) works best when every PICO makes some time to register their results soon after each the contests is administered. Waiting until March or even April, as some do, cause our results to be inaccurate and also incur additional fees for you or your school. Please make a “new year’s resolution” to be prompt with reporting those scores; your mathletes deserve that much. Every year we have students who do not receive recognition because their PICO just didn’t get around to submitting scores in a timely manner. Don’t let that happen to your mathletes. I also want to take this opportunity to remind those of you who administer an Institute team that this year’s dates for administration are the same as those for school teams.

 

Our professional conference schedule, which should have begun in July 2020 has effectively been closed down – once again, a victim of Covid-19. We will be attempting to present at virtual conferences as they appear throughout the year. Our website always has a listing of the conferences at which we will make an “appearance” as speakers and/or exhibitors. Why not consider joining a group of dedicated professionals to connect with and discover new ideas to enhance your teaching experience?

 

And finally, in case you have not been on social media recently, you could follow our travels and escapades (as well as enrollment winners at each of these events) on Facebook at www.facebook.com/moems.org. We also have a presence on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@TweetMOEMS and Instagram at www.Instagram.com/moems.org but to a lesser degree; we more senior users of social media need some encouragement to be more active on those two platforms. Please take the time to like, follow, tweet or whatever else we are all supposed to do to put us in more places on the map of mathematical problem solving.

 

From all of us at “MOEMS Headquarters,” have a remarkable year.

 

Sincerely,
Nicholas J Restivo
Executive Director MOEMS

2. THIS NEWSLETTER

For those of you who have received your new password, this electronic newsletter is intended to give you all the basic information you need to begin a successful year as a PICO (Person-In-Charge-of-the-Olympiads). Please check each item below. Our web site, http://www.moems.org, contains everything you need for every facet of the Olympiads. In particulat, you should download and go through the document titled Organization and Procedures. This is our rulebook and is an important resource for you. Additionally, this newsletter summarizes the more urgent items.

 

About one week before each designated contest date, the contest (problems and detailed solutions) will be posted at our web site as an pdf document. The first two pages of this will be used for the OnPaper Contest Administration and the remainder for the answers, solutions, and follow-up questions. A separate document will be also be posted. This will be used for those team members taking the OnLine Contest Administration. A reminder email will be sent to you at that time, alerting you to the availability of the contest.

3. ONLINE RESOURCES

OUR SECURE WEBSITE

Password Protected
Available only to PICOs and their designees.
Download documents and contests, enroll students, record scores, check overall performance, change or add PICO or email

OUR GENERAL WEBSITE

No Passwrod Required
Open to ALL. General reference for the MOEMS family, educators, all interested in math education or problem solving competitions.

HOME” Includes important norices, dates, deadlines, and links to team enrollment, secure website, mobile website, store website
“GENERAL” contest and award information, Problem of the Month, conferences, team enrollment, our Board of Directors
“PICO CORNER” check below,
“TOURNAMENT” list of name, date, location, contact info of tournaments using our problems

You will use the Internet to receive all materials and all contests and to report all student data and scores.
You either have received or will shortly receive your team identification number and password. NOTE: All returning teams should have retained their ID numbers from last year. The ID’s are 7-digit numbers based on your zip code. Both ID and password are needed to enter the private “MY TEAM” area of our web site. Only you and those you invite will be able to see your team’s data. The password will be new, yet last year’s password should still allow you to view last year’s results. Once you log in, you can change the new password (recommended), download practice problems

and contests, enter all student data, and view contest statistics.

Further instructions below and the “FAQ” and “Help” sections at the site will walk you through procedures.

PRACTICE PROBLEMS

After you log in, download and print out the 50 Olympiad Problems and Solutions (two years of contests) for team practices. Click on Documents and Student Handouts at the top of your screen. More than 2000 additional problems and solutions are available also in our books. See MOEMS Online Store for details.

 

To help students prepare well for contests you may wish to send home printed copies of selected problems or pages from our books. (The problems are copyrighted, however, so do NOT post them on line.) In addition, each month we present a “Problem of the Month” which can be found at the MOEMS web site home page: General Information > Problem of the Month.

A great place to start is by clicking the Home Page button titled “PICO CORNER”
YOUR STARTUP MATERIALS

“NEW TEAM INFO” is good for all, but should be especially helpful is this is your first time coaching a team. It contains hints and links that will help you get started.

 

ALL TEAM INFO” provides information and links to resources that assist all coaches.

 

Check out “TIPS FOR ALL PICOs” when you have a little more time. It may help you plan your practices and assist you avoid problem spots throughout the year.

MAJOR DOCUMENTS

The following helpful items appear both in the General MOEMS web site in the PICO’s Corner as well as in the password protected Secure Website. The document “What Every Young Mathlete Should Know” specifies the vocabulary needed for our contests. The document “Organization and Procedures” details the contest procedures, eligibility, and awards. “Welcome to PICOs” contains well wishes and important concerns from our director, Nick, to you. Sending a copy of the document “Message to Parents” home helps you build parental support for your program. These documents can be found under PICO’s Corner > Major Documents.

4. PROBLEM OF THE MONTH

An excellent source of MOEMS problems for you or your students is our popular monthly feature “Problem of the Month” or “POM”. Each month brings a new problem. You’ll find four of our problems here complete with answer and multiple solutions for all but the newest problem. These are MOEMS problems but they have NOT appeared in our monthly contests, so even if you have been keeping a library of past problems or have all our books you won’t have these! The level of the problem alternates between Division E and M, so each month you’ll see two problems from each division.

 

Be aware, these are copyrighted problems. Feel free to share them with your students, but please do not publish them or post them on the internet. If you want to make them part of an online newsletter, you are encouraged to provide a link to them using: http://moems.org/zinger.htm

5. CONDUCTING PRACTICES

We recommend the following for team practices.

Use groups

 

Students must do the Olympiad contests individually. Even so, we recommend that they practice in small cooperative groups of three or four, in line with a growing body of research.

 

The benefits are many:

 

  1. Students learn from each other and each person has much more opportunity to speak than in whole-class activities.
  2. With greater activity students accept greater responsibility for their own learning and clarify their thinking.
  3. For some, this small-group setting is less inhibiting, allowing them to think aloud, explore, explain, and react to other people’s statements.
  4. Understanding in depth is promoted. Clarify the problem if needed.

Vary! vAry! vaRy! varY!

 

Choose problems that allow for multiple methods of solution, which encourages students to develop flexibility in their thinking. Focusing on geometry problems not only accomplishes this goal, but also strengthens an important area of study. Select problems of varying difficulty, using the percent correct as an aid. Let your students warm up with a relatively simple first problem, but then choose harder problems. Vary the content as much as possible.

Don’t rush

 

Allow time for discussion within each group and then for several students to present their solutions to the whole group. Thoughts are heard and retained better when students offer them than when adults do so. The magic phrase is, “Did anyone solve it another way?” Letting students do the teaching builds confidence by showing recognition and appreciation for their ability and maturity.

6. ENGLISH NOT THEIR FIRST LANGUAGE?

With the increase of mathletes for whom English is not their first language, the following procedure becomes more important.

 

After you distribute the Olympiad fand make sure all pencils and pens are down,read the questions aloud.
Then give the signal to start and begin timing the problem.

 

You are authorized to create a foreign-language version of each contest for any non-English-reading mathlete or to allow an English-to-foreign-language dictionary during the contest where needed. MOEMS does not provide either. Such students may not have any additional time.

7. ADMINISTERING OLYMPIAD CONTESTS

“Organization and Procedures” tells how to conduct an Olympiad contest. Some important rules to follow:
  1. Prepare the contest questions before the scheduled date.
  2. Read the problems aloud to the team before allowing the students to begin solving.
  3. Do not explain or interpret any problem any student during the contest. If a word appears that need clarification, you MAY provide an alternate word but may NOT define or explain it.
  4. Do not signal the correctness of any answer to any participant until all papers are collected.
  5. Give credit ONLY for the answers EQUIVALENT to those on the “Answers and Solutions” sheet.
  6. If you believe a non-matching answer is correct, see “Appealing a Student’s Answer” below.

8. APPEALING A STUDENT'S ANSWER

If you believe the student’s interpretation is valid, mark it wrong and contact us in writing. Please identify the team by both name and ID number and the student, state which problem is being appealed and give the basis for the appeal in detail. Credit can be granted for such an answer for only one of these reasons.
1 A different answer is supported by an alternate interpretation that agrees with all the given conditions in the problem.
2 The wording of the problem has a fatal flaw making no answer possible.

Credit is not granted for any student reading or copying error. If an otherwise correct answer includes any additional information that is not completely correct, credit must be denied. The student has “said too much.” You will receive a decision for the appeal either in the newsletter, by mail, or by e-mail.

 

If an appeal is granted, every student on any team with that same answer should also get credit. Keeping a copy of the students’ oringinal answers will help to accomplish this.

9. AFTER AN OLYMPIAD CONTEST. . .

Many PICOs feel that the review session after a contest has special importance. It may well be the most important type of activity of the Olympiad program.  
  • You may distribute our answers and solutions as soon as the first practice following each contest.
  • Use the first practice session after each contest to have students present and discuss their strategies and solutions for the contest problems. Letting them do most of the speaking helps them grow as math students more rapidly and fully.
  • Review words and concepts some did not understand.
  • Review the solutions given on the “Answers and Solutions” sheet.
  • Vary and extend selected problems. We provide follow-up questions to many of the problems. These can help you do this.
  • Provide opportunities for children to review and practice new strategies.

10. TEAM SCORES

The team-score is the year-long sum of the top ten individuals’ cumulative scores over all five Olympiads. In addition to divisional team awards, special grade level recognition for team score is given in DIVISION E to the top 20% of all fifth grade teams and the top 20% of all fourth grade teams, and in DIVISION M to the top 20% of all seventh grade teams and the top 20% of all sixth grade teams. (The team grade level is the highest grade level of any student on the team.) Note that a school with several teams could earn several awards.

11. TIPS ON RECORD-KEEPING PROCEDURES

Your password is case-sensitive, unique, and very random. Why not change the password you are sent to one that is easier to remember?
While we recommend Teams be register early to allow sufficient practice before Olympiad 1. Student names and information are not needed to be entered until scores are reported. The DEADLINE FOR SCORE ENTRY is listed below and on the HOME page along with the dates of the contest administration window. It could be easier to enter student data a few days before you record the results for Contest 1.
THE 2020-2021 SEASON
Contest Dates for 2020 – 2021
(For both OnPaper and OnLine formats)
CONTEST
Test Administration Window
Deadline for Score Entry
Division E
Division M
1
Nov 16 – Dec 12
Nov 16 – Dec 12
Mar 31
2
Dec 14 – Jan 16

Dec 14 – Jan 16
Mar 31
3
Jan 11 – Feb 13
Jan 11 – Feb 13
Mar 31
4
Feb 8 – Mar 6
Feb 8 – Mar 6
Mar 31
5
Mar 8 – Mar 31
Mar 8 – Mar 31
Mar 31
To enter your team information, log in to our secure site and click the “MY TEAM” tab on the HOME PAGE.
Then click the “EDIT STUDENT LIST” button.Most PICOs enter student names by last name in alphabetical order. NOTE: For “GENDER” the choices are “M”, “F”, and “D” for “Does not prefer to respond”.
If students join afterwards, add their names, grades, and genders at the bottom of the list, you can always choose the order used to view the list.
Do not delete any student names. If a student leaves, just mark him or her as absent for the remaining Olympiads. EXCEPTION: If the roster is full (35 mathletes) and a new student replaces one that left, then contact MOEMS and let us make the change. Otherwise there will be confusion at awards time. Remember, the accuracy of your team’s awards at the end of the year depends on how well our records match what you see on your screen.
For how long should the contest papers (OnPaper format) or answer spreadsheet (OnLine format) be kept? We have no written policy regarding the retention of contests after they have been graded, but here’s a suggestion. Before returning the contests to your Olympians, make copies of them to keep on file. The file of “old” contests should be kept for at least two contest cycles (e.g., the November Contests should not be disposed of until after the January (at the earliest) contest is administered). Alternatively, you can ask the OnPaper students to return the papers after having gone over them. Ideally keeping all papers until the end of the school year would be the prudent thing to do!

12. VOLUME 4 IS HERE!

Your wait is over! The 1225 problems contained in our MOEMS® Contest Problems volumes 1 – 3 will on November 2, 2020 be joined by the 400 new problems in Volume 4. Unlike the first 3 volumes, this latest is “The International Edition”. MOEMS, founded in 1978 was joined in 1987 by APSMO, the first and longest running contest organization affiliated with MOEMS. This volume contains problems that appeared on both organizations’ competitions.

 

The 400 problems contained in this volume consist of the 2014 through 2017 contests of APSMO Divisions J (years 4-6) and S (years 6-8) along with the 2013-14 through 2016-17contests of MOEMS Divisions E (grades 4-6) and M (grades 6-8). There are 4 years x 5 contests x 5 questions = 100 total questions each of these sections.

13. MOEMS® PRIVACY POLICY

Protecting your private information is our priority. Links to our privacy policy can be found at the bottom of our landing page, our HOME page, and our MOBILE HOME page. It is also available HERE. The MOEMS Statement of Privacy applies to http://moems.org and Mathematical Olympiads for Elementary & Middle Schools and governs data collection and usage. For the purposes of this Privacy Policy, unless otherwise noted, all references to Mathematical Olympiads for Elementary & Middle Schools include MOEMS, http://moems.org , MOEMS Secure Site, and https://www.pta.net.au/secure/APSMO/MA/MOEMSPICO.php .

14. TOURNAMENTS & CONFERENCES

The effects of COVID-19 have been far-reaching. For MOEMS many adjustments and changes have been made to accomodate schools and individuals the world over to benefit from our problem-solving and our contests. These effects have also included tournaments that many organizations have used to host their own math competition and many conferences at which MOEMS staff have led instructional sessions and appeared as exhibitors.

 

Most tournaments previously scheduled for 2020 had to be scrapped and Conferences have been postponed, cancelled, or remade into virtual events. Below is information about both tournaments and conferences in the coming year.

END-OF-YEAR TOURNAMENTS

Our Math Tournaments for grades 4 – 6 and 6 – 8 are quite different from our monthly contests in format and style, but very similar in the types of problems posed. Last year nearly 50 Tournaments had been scheduled throughout the United States and in foreign countries. Unlike the monthly contests, a tournament is run by a regional entity – a local corporation, a professional organization, a college, or a mid-sized school district – under its own name. We provide full support (questions, solutions, step-by-step directions for inviting schools, an organized time-line for the weeks leading to the competition, publicity letters, and ready-to-use record-keeping spreadsheets for team entries and scorekeeping) and you invite schools in your area to send teams to a central location. All monies generated from the Tournament are yours to keep to help promote your organization’s message.

 

Five-member teams from schools in your “region” gather for a full day face-to-face competition or a virtual event. Scheduled after the middle of March, this Tournament provides your students with a climax to their monthly contests. Students work in groups on ten problems, individually on ten others, and ties are broken by a playoff. A key feature is the review of the solutions. Prizes (provided by the sponsoring organization) are awarded on the same day.

 

Simply stated, the day provides the excitement and competition that so many “olympians” crave, and gives them something more to look forward to at the end of the academic year.

For further information, click on the Run Your Own Tournament link on our website or contact the Olympiad office at (516)781-2400.

MOEMS AT CONFERENCES

MOEMS has participated in many international, national, regional, state, and local conferences over the years. Among these are conferences targeting math educators, educators of gifted students, general education, afterschool programs, charter school, religious school, homeschool. At these conferences we have led sessions involving problems solving as well as other special math topics. We have also maintained a presence in the exhibit area of most of these conferences, which is where we promote our contest and our tournament programs.

For 2020-2021 Covid-19 has greatly affected all large-scale gatherings. We are preparing to participate in virtual events for the forseeable future for both our sessions and our “booth”.

Details and the list of conferences will be posted and updated on our website at MOEMS.ORG> HOME> GENERAL> CONFERENCES.

If you are aware of a conference that you feel would be worthwhile for Math Olympiad presence, email us at office@moems.org

If you are willing to speak about Olympiad-style contests or problem-solving at your local or state conferences, please contact us. We are always looking to expand our group of ‘Johnny Appleseeds’ since we believe math is best learned through problem-solving. Who would understand this better than one of our PICOs? We will supply materials for your presentation and add your information to our website

15. CONTEST 1 DATES

CONTEST
#
DIVISIONS E and M TEST
ADMINISTRATION WINDOW
Deadline for Score Entry
1
Nov. 16 – Dec. 12
March 31

Contests should be administered at one sitting (OnPaper format) or within a short time of other administrations (OnLine format). If more than one school in your district participates in the Olympiads, try to schedule the contest on the same day for all district teams. (We have learned that children and parents from different schools in a district enjoy discussing the problems with each other. This could be a problem if all children do not take the Olympiad on the same date.)