American high school mathletes have done it again!
This is the second year in a row that the USA Team claimed the championship title at the International Mathematical Olympiad. The most prestigious problem-solving competition in the world, the 57th IMO was held July 6-16, 2016 in Hong Kong. Last summer was the first time since 1994 that the USA Team won the competition, effectively contradicting reports ranking American math and science scores as “average”.
So, what ingredients are behind this triumph?
And what can we do to replicate this success in our elementary and middle school students in particular. (These are the key years for getting kids interested and comfortable in math.)
One answer may lie with the team’s coach, Po-Shen Loh, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University. Loh is one of the nation’s top mathematics leaders, pushing and supporting mathletes across the country.
In interviews, Loh talks about math being more than just a “bunch of formulas to memorize”. He thinks about math as a creative enterprise, a “cross between art and law.” His interest and enthusiasm are contagious and draw interest from some of the nation’s top students.
Here at Smartick, we think another important factor in the USA team’s success is their dedication to practice. Each member of the team spends lots of time practicing math problems multiple times a day, each day.
This same “math habit” can lead other students to success in math too. A daily routine, even if it’s just fifteen minutes, is what Smartick believes can advance a student’s math ability, perhaps even to international acclaim! Completing a Smartick session every day is the key to optimal results. (Skipped days impact the method’s effectiveness.) It is important to maintain a routine, even on weekends and over vacations.