Math clubs get national sponsor

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, MathCounts—a middle school math enrichment program—is broadening its outreach. The Alexandria, Va.–based sponsor of local, regional, and national math competitions is launching a program that will give schools free materials to create math clubs for sixth to eighth graders.

Research shows that when U.S. students reach middle school, “they tend to either lose interest [in math] or lose ground and ability compared to counterparts overseas,” explains Louis DiGioia, MathCounts’ executive director. “Our mission is to increase enthusiasm and achievement for middle school math.”

MathCounts has long focused on revving up interest through competitions. Last year, 41,000 middle school students entered at the local level, and winners proceeded to the state and national levels. While continuing these competitions, MathCounts is now adding a new, noncompetitive program.

Any U.S. school with grades 6 to 8 may request a “club-in-a-box” package of resources for teachers and students. Monthly challenge problems will appear on MathCounts’ Web site. Clubs with at least 12 members who perform well on an ultimate challenge each year will receive a banner, says DiGioia. “We’re trying to help make math as important as a school sport.”

Janet Raloff

Janet Raloff is the editor of Science News for Students, a daily online magazine for middle school students. She started at Science News in 1977 as the environment and policy writer.

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