CMS/SMC
Société mathématique du Canada
www.smc.math.ca
Société mathématique du Canada
  location:  Communautéfonds de dotationaperçu
Communauté        

Title of Project: Canadian Math Kangaroo Contest-Game

Year of Competition: 2007

Grant amount: $4000

Project Duration: Single Year

Type of Report: Annual

Period Covered: 2008

Description of Activity:
Math Kangaroo is an annual contest for students in grades 3-12, currently available in Canada in the following cities - Ottawa, Toronto area (Toronto city and its satellite Brampton), Edmonton, Calgary, St. John's, Montreal, and Winnipeg. In 2008 one new center offered the contest in Winnipeg. The number of entries in Canada increased to 778 in 2008. We organized training sessions (without collecting fee from contestants), parents' contests, and award ceremonies. In July 2008 a group of two students and a supervisor from Canada participated in a summer Math Kangaroo camp in Romania. The online system, which includes the contestant's registration and the administrator's system, has been developed.

Assessment of Effectiveness:
The Canadian Math Kangaroo Contest is a part of a broader international project that involves more than 4.5 million students and hundreds of mathematicians from 41 countries: the International contest 'Math Kangaroo' administered by the Association 'Kangaroo without Borders'. Since 2006 when Canada joined the Association, we have actively participated in the annual meetings of the Association where representatives of all member countries select and coordinate the contest papers, discuss organization issues, and share positive experience.

The 2008 contest became available for students in the following cities (number of entries in parentheses): Ottawa (200), Toronto (368), Edmonton (63), Calgary (85), St. John's (19), Montreal (4), and Winnipeg (39). In total, 778 students took part in the 2008 contest. By grades there were: 119 students in grade 3; 152 in grade 4; 103 in grade 5; 86 in grade 6; 92 in grade 7; 50 in grade 8; 37 in grade 10; 21 in grade 11; and 34 in grade 12. One new contest centre offered the contest in Winnipeg. In Brampton, there is a 'satellite' centre that offers the contest in cooperation with the Toronto centre. We received a request for a new centre in Scarborough, which is also in the greater Toronto area. We are in a process of approaching universities to explore the potential of opening centres in other regions (Vancouver, Victoria, Quebec City, Halifax, etc.) since we often receive inquires from parents, students, and teachers living in the areas where the contest has not been! offered before.

Last year we started the design and the development of an enhanced Website that can facilitate the organizers in administering the contest. Currently, we have contestant's registration form and administrator's interface completed. Although we have an operating Website that allows us to manage the registration and the administration of the contest, it is still necessary to further test and maintain it. A Web developer (a student from Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) worked during the summer of 2008 for a period of 10 weeks, 37.5 hours per week, under the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP). Also, two math major students from Concordia University College of Alberta were involved in the Website maintenance and development during the period December 2007 - April 2008.

Thanks to the support of CMS, training sessions were offered free of charge to approximately 300 contestants in almost all cities administering the contest: Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg. This support helped us to pay instruction fee for training. We noticed that students who attended training sessions were more confident and prepared for the contest. They learned how to approach problems and deal with challenging questions and time constraints with positive attitude.

Math Kangaroo contest again provided opportunities for university students to gain experience in organizing school math competitions. In several cities, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, and Toronto, students were involved in the training sessions as well as in the overall contest organization. We also purchased brochures from the UK Math League to be given out or sold to parents and students. We have ordered customized pencils to be distributed as souvenirs at the contest day, as well as to be used as promotional items.

This year all co-ordinators once more did tremendous job advertising, registering, administering, and organizing the pre-contest activities. The contest day was a great experience for participants and parents. After the contest, it was a pleasure preparing and organizing award ceremonies and celebrations for the best performed students. This year we also received an invitation to send a group of students to the International Math Kangaroo Summer Camp in Romania with accommodation and meals covered by the Romanian organization 'Sigma'. We set up a group of five national winners from grades 6-8 to attend the camp. Although a supervisor (a Canadian of Romanian origin), who would meet the group in Romania, was available, we could not find a supervisor willing to travel with the group from Canada at his/her own expense. Parents hesitated to let students travel with a flight attendant only. As a result, Canada was represented at the camp only by two students of Romanian origin.! Nevertheless, they brought back excellent impressions and memories, and a lot of inspiration for taking additional math challenges. The conclusion is that we need to be able to support a supervisor travelling from Canada to lead the group of students willing to attend camps in Europe. Also, we are willing to assist contest winners in financial need to attend international math camps. For this purpose we make efforts to attract additional support. For instance, IEEE NCS was willing to assists a student from Edmonton with $500 because flights from Alberta are more expensive than those from Eastern provinces; however, this student could not travel to Europe at all.

The results from the 2008 contest are good, in terms of numbers. We slightly increased the number of participants (from 770 to 778). In Toronto and Edmonton, the popularity of the contest was greater than in 2007; in Ottawa and Calgary it was almost at the same level. There is a slight decrease of participation in St. John's. Winnipeg had a great start with about 40 participants. In Montreal, we could not attract a significant number of students as would be expected in a city of this size, regardless of the efforts of our local representative to advertise it. For the next year, we will have another person (a mathematician who just came to Montreal from Mexico after completing her PhD), who is going to assist with the organization in Montreal, and we expect to see positive results because of this.

In order to promote the contest among math educators' community we are preparing an exhibition set during the CMS Winter Meeting in Ottawa in December 2008. We will distribute information materials to the participants in the Education session of the meeting. A working team meeting will be scheduled at this time. Presently, we are still exploring possibilities of organizing a Math Kangaroo workshop for colleagues who are contest coordinators or who are interested in joining us.

Publications:

Mariya Svishchuk and Rossitza Marinova gave a presentation 'Math Kangaroo Contests' during the Alberta Colleges Mathematics Conference in Calgary, Alberta, May 2-3, 2008.

Metro news in Calgary published an article with a title '1+1=fun for mathematics students' on the contest day March 31, 2008. Our local representative in Calgary Mariya Svishchuk and several contestants were interviewed.

Other Support:

The support from the Canadian Mathematical Society through the Endowment Grant Program attracted additional funding. We also received financial support from IEEE Northern Canada Section and from Concordia University College of Alberta thought the STEP (Summer Temporary Employment Program) program in order to hire a Web developer during the summer to work on the new Math Kangaroo Website.

Future Plans (if any):
We continue our campaign for expanding the contest nationally. We expect other cities to join the 2009 Math Kangaroo contest and the participating cities to increase the number of entries. The availability of an enhanced Website will be of great assistance for the future editions of the contest. We could not attract many cities last year because the on-line system for administering the contest was in a process of development and testing.

It is encouraging that we are already known across Canada as a party that provides a unique, challenging math experience (especially for younger students). This is something that we are really proud of. We receive e-mails and inquiries from parents who are looking for Math Enrichment activities for their children and decided to contact us or have been directed to us. Evidently, the need exists. Math Kangaroo-related clubs, classes, preparation sessions (including on-line training) have the chance to become the focus for inspiring and promoting interest and excellence in Math among students. We plan to really focus on long-term activities related to the contest. It may be helpful to provide information sessions and workshops for teachers (especially from the elementary schools) and to encourage them to use the contest and the materials for motivating and challenging their students throughout the year.

We will describe our future plans in more details in the new application we plan to submit for the 2008 CMS EG competition.

Financial:
In 2008, because of the support we received, we again succeeded in keeping the fees low. We collected $12 per participant to cover the costs of organizing the event. Training courses were offered in almost all cities at no cost for the participants. Hosting institutions helped us cover costs of advertising and hosting the event.

We would like to mention that in the end of 2007 and in 2008 a substantial amount was spent for the Website development and maintenance. This was a high priority task because we needed the online system not only for the registration but also for the administration of the contest. For covering these expenses we succeeded in attracting two STEP grants (in 2007 and in 2008) with a total amount of approximately $3300. This grant normally requires training for the job and usually students are hired during the summer. As a consequence, we needed to reduce other expenses.

REVENUE
   Total11022.26
Beginning Balance (Sept 30, 2007)1434.36
CMS EG4000.00
IEEE NCS Sponsorship500.00
2007 CUCA STEP Grant1197.90
National Registration Fee ($5 per participant)3890.00
2008 CUCA STEP Grant (estimated, not added to the revenue, will be received Dec 2008)2100.00
EXPENSES
     (Oct 1, 2007 - Sept 30, 2008)    Total10445.59
Postal75.74
Awards (books, medals, plaques, camps)1524.58
Web Development4160.17
Promotional products (customized pencils)1132.43
Training (instruction, rental)1773.00
National coordination110.90
International coordination 20071668.77
International coordination 2008 (estimated, not added to the expenses, will be used in Oct 2008)1600.00
BALANCE
     (Sept 30, 2008)   Total576.67

Remark: Please note that the above financial statement represents only the national (not local) expenses and revenue. The rest of the collected registration fees are used to cover the expenses and the organization costs in the local centers (office supplies, rental of rooms and halls, souvenirs, books, printing/copying, administrative help and service, banking, gift certificates for volunteers, etc. We can provide additional information on how participating cities spent the rest ($7) of collected fees if needed.

Unused funds ($2676), which also include a reimbursement for payroll expenses for Website development (approximately $2100), will be used by the end of 2008 as follows:

  1. To cover expenses of Valeria Pandelieva to attend the 16th Annual Assembly meeting and to pay the membership fee of 50 EURO to the International Association (since the place changed during the summer the projected cost would be less than planned or total of $1,600);
  2. With the rest (approx $1076) we plan to cover expenses for
    • Exhibition materials for the CMS Winter Meeting in December
    • Assist Math Kangaroo representative(s) to attend the CMS Winter Meeting in December to promote the contest
    • Math training expenses such as instruction fee, materials
    • Maintenance / French translation of the Website

The CMS logo appears on the Canadian Math Kangaroo Contest Website, contest materials, prizes, reports, registration forms, advertising letters, letter of results, and letters with winners' names to schools, etc.

Contact Name: Rossitza S. Marinova

[September 29, 2008]


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