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Math Olympics

An interactive Mathematics session wherer students work as a team to solve problems correctly faster than other teams.

Grades 3-8
Subjects Math
Time Frame 10 Math questions for your grade level copied and laid out in 10 stations around the classroom, answer sheet, score sheet.

Write about 10 math questions including material from every strand. Be sure to have logic questions, computation and problem-solving. The questions should vary in difficulty and complexity according to grade level. Number each question. Make four or five copies of each question about the size/ shape of a recipe card. Have a sheet at your desk with the answers on it that is clearly laid out for you to see, but that the runners cannot see. Also have a score sheet for each team close at hand. An 81/2-by-11-inch page separated into boxes (one per team) with the numbers 1 to 10 in each box works well as a score sheet. Put an X through each question as the team presents you with the correct answer.

Arrange 10 centers around the room. Place copies of Question 1 at Center 1, Question 2 at Center 2, and so on. Ensure that the centers are not too close together. (A desk pulled off to the side of the room will function adequately.)

Divide the class into teams. Try to have three to four students per team, and try to have students with a variety of ability lever working together. Number of teams will vary depending how many students you have ir your class. Each team will have a designated area of the class in which to work. Have team pick one runner. Only the designated runner can go get a question from a center and that same person is the only one who can come to your desk to check the answer. This cuts down on confusion and you get used to seeing the same face for a certain team.

The teams can work at the centers in whatever order they choose. If they get a question that they can't solve, they can put it back and get another one, but each team can only work on one question at a time. If the runner comes to your desk for an answer check and has the wrong answer, the team may try again.

Students may use whatever materials they need to find the answer (toothpicks, poker chips, cubes or any other math manipulatives you have in the classroom). A question that needs a calculator will not be a straightforward, easy calculation, but more of a logic question.

Set a time limit, and the team with the most correct answers wins. It's wild and crazy and so much fun.

This activity can be interactive between classes at the same grade level. The winning team from each class or grade level can be declared and the recognized at divisional or whole-school assembly, complete with Math Olympic medals or ribbons. Teachers can coordinate the timing of this activity so that the whole school holds Math Olympics at the same time of year. Many school districts have Math competitions and contests that students can be encouraged to enter based on the interest sparked by this activity.

Book Tie-ins

The Secret Life of Math by Ann McCallum

Math Curse by Jon Scieszka

The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang

Printed with permission from Firefly Books Ltd.

Great Teacher Projects K-8 by Laura Mayne

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Great Teacher Projects: K-8


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