Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Mathletes' invited to number games

Last day for Grade 12s to register for competition

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Are you a mathlete?

Does pre-cal get you pumped?

Does a simultaneous equation elevate your heart rate?

Then University of Manitoba math professor Robert Craigen has just the contest for you.

"As with any sport or competition in arenas like music, art or science fairs, mathletics offers challenges and rewards to those who persevere -- pride of accomplishment, recognition and material reward for your particular talents," Craigen said.

Today is the deadline for Grade 12 students to enter the annual Manitoba Mathematical Contest. They can register through their math teacher, Craigen said.

It's one of many math contests for various grades each year across Canada, said Craigen.

"Many schools have math clubs or do in-class mathletics training, and starting in middle school, Manitoban mathletes participate in competitions with names like Pythagoras, Euler, Gauss, Fryer, Hypatia, Galois, Kangaroo Math, Math League and others," he said.

Did you know there's a mathletics season?

"The mathletics season doesn't get underway in earnest until February. It begins this Feb. 21 as our mathletes sit down to write the Pascal (Grade 9), Cayley (Grade 10) and Fermat (Grade 11) contests," he said.

"The same day, Grade 12 students will write the Manitoba Mathematical Contest (MMC), which is sponsored by the Manitoba Association of Mathematics Teachers (MAMT), the Winnipeg Actuaries' Club (WAC), the Canadian Mathematical Society and the University of Manitoba."

"Pitched at the top 10 per cent of the graduating class, it is open to all comers" and offers prizes and U of M tuition waivers up to $1,000, Craigen said. "The rank of top students, and designations such as honourable mention, is available to universities and scholarship committees considering student accomplishments for subsequent awards or advancement in programs in math, science and engineering.

"I am concerned that the math contests in general have dropped beneath the general public's awareness horizon, and I thought I'd prime the notion that there is a whole gamut of such opportunities for students who ask their teachers about them.

"The teachers get the literature for the contests, but increasingly we find they are simply filing it rather than tapping their best students and challenging them to compete.

"It is leading to a serious erosion in Manitoba's performance in national-level contests relative to other provinces... The reason is largely decreasing levels of participation.

"Educationally, that is a warning sign that we are slumping into mediocrity by not encouraging our best students to take advantage of the opportunities for recognition that are out there," Craigen said.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 7, 2013 A6

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