World Maths Day


Yesterday was World Math day, and to celebrate, students from more than 94 countries around the world participated in a massive online event aimed at setting a record of record of 10 million questions correctly answered! That record was set in just 17 hours!. My son sat at his computer to join the fun with just three and a half hours to go, and the total just passed the 35 million mark as he participated in his first challenge!

At some times in the challenge there have been over 10,000 students online competing at the same time! The Hall of Fame is a miscellany of countries from Portugal to Cyprus, Kazakhstan to Bermuda, the Mariana Islands to New Zealand! One young New Zealander (from Newlands Intermediate) was in 4th place when we looked.

While I wouldn’t normally find this sort of “drill and practice” activity something to get too excited about, it was interesting to watch the reaction of my nine year old and his six year old sister as they participated in each challenge, where the challenge involved both speed and accuracy. My son, who has had a Mathletics account for just a couple of weeks, was really engaged at a number of levels;

  • trying to better his previous effort,
  • maintaining his accuracy score,
  • competing against others in terms of accuracy and speed in each challenge,
  • knowing he was contributing to the overall total of correct answers, and
  • noting the countries that each of his challengers came from in each challenge

It was also fascinating to listen to the dialogue between him and his younger sister as each problem appeared on the screen, with one reading the problem as the other looked at the keyboard to type in the answer.

This may not have been the epitome of constructivist or inquiry-based learning, but it did reinforce for me that we ought not dismiss too quickly the motivation that comes for some students through some carefully constructed competition!

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