MathCON Invites Kids to Get Excited About Competing With Numbers
“Math? I’m terrible at math!”
“When am I ever going to use this?”
“Math is too hard, I’m not a math person.”
Many students are growing up in a culture that holds the perception of math as difficult and irrelevant. Teachers across the nation are working to change these perceptions, and they’re doing it by trying to make math fun. This is where events like MathCON, a nationwide math competition that is open to every student in every type of school—even homebound kids, come in to help teachers get their students excited about math.
Brad Grounds, the math coach of National Champion team Penn High School, talked about the importance of encouraging a love of math as students get into middle and high school, saying:
“Most of the students have been doing competitions for years. So it’s really just a culmination of all the stuff they’ve done since fourth or fifth grade.”
MathCON was created in 2008 by Concept Schools as a Midwest competition with just 125 participants, and has since grown to a national event with nearly 50,000 students from 43 states taking part in the online portion of the competition. The top 576 finalists were invited to the University of Illinois at Chicago to compete in an in-person test consisting of 50 questions over 80 minutes. Questions pulled from several mathematics disciplines: algebra, geometry, measurement, data analysis, number systems and pre-calculus.
Many students talked about the joy of celebrating a love of math with other students. One high-schooler commented:
“Being here is really fun. The people around here are involved in mathematics to the extent that I am. You can’t necessarily find those people in your school. When you come here you can find those people”
In addition to the approximately hour-long test, students at this year’s competition enjoyed the “In Jest Comedy Variety Show” with Nels Ross, a pizza party with other participants, and an array of STEM-related games.
Concept Schools, based in Des Plaines, Ill., is a nonprofit organization that manages high-quality college prep, public charter schools throughout the Midwest. In addition to providing rigorous, STEM-focused curriculum and leadership development support to the schools, Concept also hosts a number of academic competitions and conferences throughout the year, including STEMCON, an annual Conference for K-12 STEM educators (www.stemcon.net).
Registration for MathCON 2018 starts on September 25, 2017! Please check out: www.MATHCON.org.