Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sign up for our December Math Meet

Albany Area Math Circle continues our very well-received monthly middle school math meets program again this year.   We will be using the Math Meets contest problems written by the always awesome George Reuter, the world famous coach of the Upstate NY Math team.

Congratulations to all the brave students who participated in our October and November math meets!  Every question solved added to the team's totals due to the fact that we had less than 10 students in each division!

Shout-outs to our high scorers of the meets:  Gwenda and Gabriel (Nov-middle school division); Jeffrrey (Oct-middle school division); Matt B, Matt G, David, and Philip (Nov-hs-no calc division); David, Gideon, and Luxi (Nov-hs calculator division); Alex and Alice (Oct hs-no calc division), Cecilia, Gili, and Matt B (Oct hs calc division).

Congratulations as well to the following perfect scorers:  Gili, Matt B, and Zubin (Oct hs-no calc); Matt B, Philip, and Zubin (Nov hs calc); Jerry and Patrick (Oct ms.)  (Note:  due to a no-duplicate award tradition, perfect scorers are NOT elgible for high scorer of the meet recognition.)

Thanks to all our high school students who have participated as mentors--you DO make a difference in helping "scary math problems" look less scary to the next generation of problem solvers!  And your courageous example in tackling tough problems of your own alongside our middle schoolers is inspiring also!

The biggest value of this type of activity comes from the collaborative discussions and reflections afterwards.  You can find last year's problems (and solutions!) here.  The December math meets problems focus on geometry, so I recommend looking at last year's December  math meet problems to prepare for this month's meet.

There are also playbooks with tips and even videos made by Coach Reuter to explain the solutions to last year's problems available here.

Space is limited and advanced signup on the form below is required.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Congratulations to Ms. Schmidt!

Albany Area Math Circle is beaming with pride to announce that our co-advisor, Alexandra Schmidt, has been recognized as a National Board Certified Teacher.

Alexandra, who teaches at Hebrew Academy of the Capital District, is one of only 50 middle school math teachers in New York to achieve this rigorous professional recognition.  She has also been a major contributor to the success of our middle school math outreach program, as well as a supporter and facilitator of many opportunities for our high school students.  She was our lead proctor when Albany Area Math Circle hosted the statewide high school math tournament, NYSML, in 2010.

Alexandra Schmidt, NBCT, in her classroom--with her Tough Traveler Albany Area Math Circle advisor bag!

Although her school is a small one, I do not know of any other school in the Capital District that includes more students as fully in their MATHCOUNTS program as Alexandra's MATHCOUNTS program does.  She shares my philosophy that the excitement, deep challenges, and collaborative shared Aha! moments of those problems ought to reach as many students as possible, not just a handful of the  "top n" students eligible for official competition.    I wish all students in the country had teachers as willing to share such engaging challenges with their students.

All students involved in her MATHCOUNTS program (not just the students on the official competition team) get invited to her home for ice cream sundaes with her special homemade fudge to celebrate afterwards.  That reflects a belief--which I share as well--that every member of the greater MATHCOUNTS community has a role to play in encouraging and supporting the mathematical and problem solving development of other members of the community.

A graduate of Stanford University, with training and experience as an engineer before she decided to teach mathematics, Alexandra brings a strong awareness of the role that mathematical problem solving and teamwork play in the "real world" to her classroom.    She also embodies all that is best about the spirit of generosity of math coaches, helping students everywhere, not just students in her own school.  (For more on this spirit, see here and here.) She has also composed her own original problems and contributed them to the greater national problem solving community.  MATHCOUNTS chose to highlight those problems as the "Coaches' Problems of the Month" in January 2010.  You can find her problems and annotated solutions here.    (MATHCOUNTS is happy to accept original problems from students as well as coaches--if you have problems to contribute, check out this link.)

Update:  As of September 2014, Alexandra is now a math teacher at Emma Willard School in Troy, bring the positive energy of collaborative "extreme math" to the high school level.