Year of Competition: 2008
Grant amount: $2500
Project Duration: Single Year
Type of Report: Annual
Period Covered: 2009
Description of Activity:
The Canadian Math Kangaroo contest is a volunteer-run annual math competition which aims to spread the joy of mathematics. In 2008 several new centres offered the contest in the Greater Toronto Area. The number of entries in Canada increased to 1092 in 2009. We organized training sessions, parents' contests, and award ceremonies. In July 2009 a group of eight students from Canada participated in a summer Math Kangaroo camp in France. Currently, the Math Kangaroo Team is working on materials to explain complex math problems in a more digestible manner for younger children.
Assessment of Effectiveness:
The 2009 contest became available for students in the following cities (number of entries in parentheses): Ottawa (244), Toronto (309), Edmonton (126), Calgary (57), St. John's (23), Markham (32), Brampton (40), Oakville (79), North York (136), Montreal (11), and Winnipeg (35). In total, 1092 students took part in the 2009 contest. By grades there were: 151 students in grade 3; 183 in grade 4; 185 in grade 5; 172 in grade 6; 145 in grade 7; 116 in grade 8; 54 in grade 9; 35 in grade 10; 23 in grade 11; and 28 in grade 12.
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.
Math materials development
Preparatory sessions are proved to be working in helping the participants to prepare better in math and that is why students and their parents appreciated training very much. However, several preparatory sessions are not enough. Therefore, we are looking forward to extend the preparatory sessions to meetings held on regular basis (Math Clubs). To satisfy needs of all interested students, we believe that the participants should be split into several groups based on their age and personal strength. Given the enthusiastic response from young students and their parents we think that Math Clubs should include groups of students of grades 3-4, 5-6, 7-8 and, desirably, an advanced group (for exceptionally advanced students). Having rich experience in teaching math and running math competitions, we are going to develop a book intended for Math Club instructors, school students, and math teachers. At present we are working on the first level intended for grades 3-4 children. After that we are planning to start to work on the second level, intended for participants of grade 5-6 group. These materials will cover traditional topics such as counting methods, logic, numeration systems, divisibility, trial and error method, counting in two ways, proof by contradiction as well as some less standard methods such as number theory, graphs, invariants, math induction, extreme case, correspondence, and some other methods needed for math olympiads training. Materials will be supplied with methodical instructions, which will be useful for math teachers at schools for training purposes. Understanding this material, often perceived as difficult because of incomprehension, is a necessity for teachers and students. The textbooks will be written in a language children can grasp. During the summer we recruited a student (Josey Hitesman) from Concordia University College for helping us to prepare the materials. In the process of developing the materials we are going to attract more students specializing in mathematics and/or education.
Valerie Froese, our representative in Winnipeg, offered online math training classes for students across Canada. We also increased the number of preparation sessions in 2009, which would become Math Kangaroo clubs. Ottawa and Calgary representatives offered sessions for interested students twice. Again, we noticed that students who attended training sessions were more confident and prepared for the contest. They could deal with challenging questions with a positive attitude, and succeeded to manage better their time during the contest. Parents were pleased and interested in the practice selections, especially the problems with a non-standard, game-like context. Many of them requested that we host more training sessions. We regularly receive inquiries regarding the contest from parents and teachers that have not been involved in it before. The increased interest in challenging mathematics activities in connection to the Math Kangaroo contest is evident and confirms our belief! s that there is a need and a demand for alternative education in math. One aspect to respond to them is to create and make available good resources and practice materials. However, optimal results cannot be achieved without guidance from a teacher or a parent and through independent work only, due to the specifics of the content and the lack of exposure to the specific types of problems in the school math program.
Workshops for Educators
For the purpose of motivating more students to participate and practice for the contest, we recognize the importance of informing teachers and providing some support to the ones who would like to promote the contest among their students. In 2008-2009, we had two workshops for teachers: in November 2008, within the program of the Carleton-Ottawa Mathematics Association's regional mini-conference; and in May 2009, for teachers from Ontario, during the Annual conference of the Ontario Association of Mathematics Educators.
Math Kangaroo contest again provided opportunities for university students to gain experience in organizing school math competitions. Students were involved in the training sessions as well as in the overall contest organization.
The Canadian Math Kangaroo was present at the winter meeting of CMS. Our table with informative and promotional materials attracted the attention of the participants. Some of them expressed interest to become regional representatives. As a result, we hope to be able to set new centres for the 2010 contest. During the contest and the training sessions, we offered brochures from the UK Math League to parents, at a minimal cost, or free of cost. (in the UK, the Math Kangaroo contest is embedded in the Math League, as one of its rounds). On the contest day, students in several regions received, as souvenirs, customized pencils with the website of the contest.
This year, a group of eight contest winners and four parents traveled to France to participate in the international Math Kangaroo camp in Paris and Tours. We also received an invitation to send a group to Romania. The reason we did not organize a second group was mainly because of problems in finding parents willing to supervise the groups. Since at this point we cannot afford sending a teacher as a leader of the team attending the camps, we need to rely on parents who volunteer to attend the camp and function as group leaders. The Canadian Math Kangaroo Contest hopes that in the future we will be able to support a supervisor to provide Canadian children the same opportunity as children across the world. In addition, Canadians and US Math Kangaroo organizers should think on ways to hold Kangaroo Summer Camp in North America. Firstly, more Canadian and American Kangaroo participants can go to Kangaroo Summer Camp held on home territory. Secondly, for a number of years the Canadian team was invited to Kangaroo Summer Camps in Bulgaria, Romania, and France. Now it is our turn to organize camps and invite teams from Europe.
Currently, there are no locations at all in several provinces such as British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan. Since we often receive inquiries from parents and teachers from cities where the contest is not administered (especially from British Columbia), we have been always searching for suitable organizations that are willing to open new contest locations there. As a matter of fact, a family traveled from Vancouver to Edmonton on March 29, 2009 only with the purpose of allowing their two children to participate in Math Kangaroo. As well, there are a number of main cities that participate in the contest, but it would be beneficial if we could reach the rural communities in Canada.
We are extremely grateful to CMS EG for supporting us for three years, 2007, 2008, and 2009. This support enabled us to start and establish our program. As well the support from the Canadian Mathematical Society through the Endowment Grant Program attracted additional funding. We also received financial support from
Future Plans (if any):
There are many activities we plan to do. We believe we will be able to attract funding to implement what we envisage. Our future plans include.
Canadian Math Kangaroo
|Beginning Balance (Sept 30, 2008)||1883.53|
|CMS Endowment Grant||2500.00|
|IEEE NCS Sponsorship||500.00|
|2009 CUCA STEP Grant||2500.00|
|Concordia Math & CS department support||2555.23|
|National Registration Fee ($5 per participant)||5455.00|
|(Oct 1, 2008 - Sept 30, 2009) Total||8785.00|
|Website Maintenance and Development||800.00|
|Awards, Postal, Prom Materials||2354.50|
|STEP Math Materials Developer - salary & Benefits||4118.40|
|(Sept 30, 2009) Total||6608.76|
Remark: Please note that the above financial statement presents only the national (not local) expenses and revenue. Local organizers collected $12 per participant spent entirely for administration of the contest.
Unused funds will be used as follows:
Contact Name: Rossitza S. Marinova
[September 29, 2009]