What is it that makes a student good at math? Is it the ability to quickly calculate large sums? Or the possession of some powerful sense of logic? For students in Concordia’s Middle School Math Club, the key is fostering an active interest in the subject.
For middle school aged students — who are expanding their academic reach and further exploring their interests — the school and faculty provide additional opportunities to expand their skills in math and problem solving.
Students in the Middle School Math Club (also known as Junior Society of Unique Mathematicians, JSUM) extend their learning by solving a range of math problems, like how to solve two-digit multiplication mentally, how to perform prime factorization for a four-digit number, and how to produce a Primitive Pythagorean Triple?
In JSUM, students challenge themselves through unique math questions, practice novel approaches to finding mathematical solutions, and simply enjoy doing math for math’s sake. They also can compete against other math enthusiasts at various international math competitions.
Founded by Concordia high school math teacher Mr. Matthew Wolodzko, JSUM is part of the school’s Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) program. Open to Grade 6-8 students this school year, this rigorous academic activity is the middle school equivalent of the high school math club, Society of Unique Mathematicians (SUM), a competition-based club that provides training for and participation in math competitions. SUM students have taken part in and won prizes in renowned competitions such as American Math Competition (AMC), UKMT-IMC, COMC, and Waterloo CEMC. As the faculty mentor of SUM, Mr. Wolodzko hopes to cultivate among middle school students a passion for the subject, encouraging them to discover the beauty and relevance of math.
“Learning math is not enough! We must also share our passion for mathematics with others. To achieve this, we need a place and time for people to come together and celebrate the joys of mathematics,” says Mr. Wolodzko. There are no course or ability requirements to join the JSUM, merely a desire to practice and expand one’s knowledge of math.
JSUM members also have the chance to learn from their more experienced high school counterparts. Each week, volunteers from SUM join club meetings to help tackle challenging problem sets, organize solution guides, and make themselves available to answer questions.
The middle school math club has been met with success and enjoyment since its creation last year. “The math club has helped me improve more. It is very helpful. You could skip a few things, instead of calculating it, you could use a trick to solve it easily,” shares G7 student Warren H.