Stop Talking-Start Showing Campaign
Every year I am invited to participate as a judge (certainly not as a competitor!) in several Math-OFF events held by the Northern Nevada Math Club. It’s super fun because adults who we refer to as our brave community members are pitted against these really smart, gifted kids (7th-12th grade students) in a jeopardy like competition. It’s certainly a compelling way for kids to understand that math matters by showing them that our local communities (individuals and businesses) value math enough to make a contribution. This is the foundation of The Stop Talking – Start Showing Campaign.
Math is the language of the Created World
Many students start their school careers liking math. The trick is in supporting and developing that “like” of math into a passion and helping them find their ‘place” in the STEM community. I can speak from personal experience that I had horrible math teachers and they really turned me off from pursuing the subject matter. The flip side, I had wonderful Elementary School Teachers who exemplified a love of learning and then in high school, English and History instructors who fostered so many thoughts and truly expanded my horizons. I digress. The United States has become a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers and innovators. Yet today, that position is threatened as comparatively few American students pursue expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)—and by an inadequate pipeline of teachers skilled in those subjects. That has to change! Bottom line, if you go down deep enough into anything you will find mathematics.
Why Math Contests?
First, they teach students to realize their strengths and appreciate the strengths of their teammates. Second, they expose these students to new areas of math, new concepts, and new STEM fields. And third, it encourages these students to push themselves to learn more and learn faster. All of this translates into the fact that many studies have shown that top STEM graduate school students noted early participation in math competitions as encouraging their interests in STEM. STEM jobs which have lower unemployment rates and higher wages are growing at a rate of 1.7 times the rate of non-STEM jobs. The future of America will depend on a workforce that can solve complex problems (robotics, bio-tech, drone technology, etc.) which means they are trained in analytical and critical thinking techniques – skills that businesses need.