Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Primary School Mathematics

How to Participate in Mathematics Competitions in Primary Schools
Taking part in a mathematics competition allows students to sharpen their problem solving skills and serves to generate interest for mathematics amongst them. The Asia Pacific Mathematical Olympiad for Primary Schools 2009 (APMOPS 2009) is organised annually in April -May by the Hwa Chong Institution-Aphelion Consortium. The contest held in Singapore is commonly known as Singapore Mathematical Olympiad for Primary Schools (SMOPS).
Awards for SMOPS
Students compete for the following awards in the SMOPS.
1) Top 10 individual prizes, awarded to the top 10 scorers.
2) 3 Honourable Mention Team Awards and 5 Honourable Mention Individual Awards.
3) Top 3 school awards, given to the three schools with the highest combined score of its top three students.
During APMOPS, students get the opportunity to interact with other mathematically talented students from the various countries. Format of the APMOPS Contest
The APMOPS contest challenges students to complete six questions within two hours.
No mathematical tables or calculators are allowed for the contest. National Mathematical Olympiad of Singapore (NMOS)
The NMOS is a competition organised by the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science. This competition is designed to spur interest amongst students for mathematics. Various awards are given to students who managed to achieve quality scores in competition. American Mathematics Contest 8(AMC 8)
The American Mathematics Contest 8 is the first of a series of mathematics competitions organised by the Mathematical Association of America and is administered by Maths Oasis Pte Ltd in Singapore. This International competition welcomes students who are interested in mathematics and enrolled in grades 8 or Secondary 2 and below to participate.
Students get to challenge themselves with mathematics that is beyond what they usually encounter in school and they can experience a wide spectrum of topics available in Middle School Mathematics. Annually, more than a hundred thousand students participate in the AMC 8 contest.High scoring students in this contest can look forward to challenge themselves in higher levels contest such as the AMC 10. Using calculators is a part of our modern way of life. By the help of a calculator we can carry out complicated mathematical operations quickly and accurately. Calculator proponents claim that calculators simplify tasks and allow students to spend less time on monotonous calculations and more time on understanding problems and determining the best methods for solving them; calculators allow students who would normally be turned off to math because of dissatisfaction or boredom to increase their mathematical understanding. Furthermore, every teacher of mathematics knows that there are graduating pupils in primary school who had not mastered the multiplication table, have difficulties with subtraction within the limits of 20 and so on. There are several circumstances which make using calculators at school not so attractive. Very often even advanced students make mistakes - pressing wrong buttons, forgetting to change a mode, rounding values too soon, forgetting to use brackets rightly ... And what about bad achieving pupils?
Whereas for bad achieving pupils a calculator is a motored wheel chair for cripples, without which they cannot move. A person who all the time uses a calculator gradually loses his/her mental computational skills. Very often even advanced pupils take calculators when they need to make simple computations which can be easily implemented in head. In certain cases it leads to difficulties in math's learning.
In other words they are doomed to poor progress in school math. Even calculators cannot help them. If you want to see some figures and diagrams you can read my article "Influence of a Level of Elementary Mental Computation Skills upon Success in School Mathematics" at my web site Prevention of Failure in School Mathematics (reference - My Articles).
It is obvious that for success in school mathematics it is necessary to master elementary mental computational skills at first - addition and subtraction within the limits of 20, multiplication and division within the limits of 100. Even calculators cannot help them.
For confirming the influence of quality of elementary mental computational skills over success in school mathematics I had decided to investigate a level of the skills of pupils in graduation-classes of primary school (the multiplication table had been completely learnt a year and a half ago) and their achievements in algebra three years later. The sample includes 403 pupils. Standard tables including 64 elementary operations in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division were used for determination of the level of the skills. You can see specimens of the tables at my site Prevention of Failure in School Mathematics (Improvement of Elementary Computational Skills, Tables).
The pupils completed the tables in written form. 1) Pupils completed the tables quickly and made not more than 3 mistakes.
2) Pupils completed the tables significantly slower than the pupils from the first group but made not more than 1 mistake.
3) Pupils completed the tables at middle pace and made 3-6 mistakes.
Statistical analysis of the parameters of the first groups (separately for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) confirmed (significance at 5% level) their internal uniformity: distribution in time is normal, and distribution in errors submits to Poisson's law. It is evident that the population of pupils with satisfactory skills may be represented only by the pupils from the first group.
The limit values were calculated for the standard tables including 64 similar elementary operations. For final-year pupils of primary school (the multiplication table had been completely learnt a year and a half ago) the next limit values had been obtained:
This level of elementary mental computational skills is a good means for determination of pupil's preparedness for successful studies. The limit values of the considered parameters define the first threshold of school math's learning ability. It must be noted in conclusion that the level of elementary mental computational skills of actively working pupils only do not decreases in due course. If a pupil uses a calculator instead of mental computations, works passively at lessons and does not carry out home works himself/herself, then the level decreases gradually. In certain cases it leads to difficulties in math's learning.


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