Have you ever been stumped by a difficult math problem? Well, join the club! In fact, that is exactly what we encourage high school students at SCIS Pudong to do.
Mathematics club is a great opportunity to challenge yourself
In our seventh year now, we have been running a Math Club as an after-school activity, where like-minded students have the opportunity to tackle challenging logic and math problems, and they are able to share their solutions with their peers.
In Math Club, the emphasis is on the process of arriving at a solution, rather than simply finding the correct answer.
As an example, students could be asked to find the number of prime numbers between one and one million. The answer, just a number, may not be very interesting, but the process of arriving at an answer could be quite instructive, and hopefully, along the way, some new discoveries will be made.
One of the components of Math Club has been what we like to call the Problem of the Week (POTW). At the beginning of each meeting, students work in pairs to develop a solution, and then one pair is asked to present their solution to the entire group. In this more relaxed atmosphere, it has been interesting to see the focus shift from the correct final answer to the solution process, and students have been discovering how there can be many solutions even to a relatively simple problem.
What can students expect from the mathematics club?
Besides working on logic and math problems, Math Club members work on preparing for various math competitions. In November, our students wrote the Canadian Senior and Intermediate Mathematics Contests (CSMC and CIMC), developed by the University of Waterloo. In the second part of the contests, students have to write out complete solutions in order to receive full marks, which of course, lines up well with our philosophy in Math Club. Every year, we have a number of students who score in the top 25% worldwide, so it’s always with great anticipation that we await the final results. However, we emphasize that it’s more about the experience than the results. This year, when students were asked about the contest, they admitted that they found it quite challenging, but at the same time, they enjoyed working through the problems.
Running a Math Club at SCIS Pudong has been quite a journey thus far, and we look forward to discovering more about mathematics and more about best teaching practices. So, if you’ve been thinking about starting a Math Club, either within the school or in your community, we highly recommend it – join the club!
Guest post by: Etienne Bilz, Mathematics and Physics Teacher at SCIS Pudong