Title: Math IV: Problem Solving Strategies

Description: The focus of this class is to coach students in competitive problem solving using actual MATHCOUNTS, AMC 8, AMC 10, and Minnesota Junior High Mathematics League problems. Emphasis will be on developing and refining problem solving strategies. It is expected, but not required, that students will either be members of their school math teams. This training will help prepare them to place among the top scorers on their team. Students also compete in the Grade 7-8 Mathematical Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools (MOEMS) contests as part of the Saturday class.

Homework: Math is not a spectator sport. Practice is essential, hence twenty to thirty minutes of homework three times a week and a desire to improve will be the key to getting the most out of this course. Each week, students should be prepared to present the solution to one of the homework problems they worked on, preferably one that wasn’t easy for them. Students should push themselves to find at least one problem each week that was challenging for them. There’s no better feeling than to succeed at doing something hard!

Prerequisites: This class is for more experienced students who have previously competed in middle-school-level math competitions such as MATHCOUNTS, AMC8, MOEMS Level M, or the Minnesota Junior High Math League. Students should be advanced in mathematical reasoning beyond grade level and must be fluent with basic pre-algebra skills such as fractions, decimals, percents, and ratios. Algebra is not a prerequisite, but students should have some experience solving basic linear equations and working with square roots and exponents.

Pre-evaluation: I will make every effort to offer problems with varying difficulty to accommodate kids at different levels. In order to assess the level of the students enrolled, they should take some time (about 1 hour) prior to the first day of class to take the pre-evaluation. The purpose of the pre-evaluation is to give me a sense of what each student knows and doesn’t know. If your student finds some of these problems hard, please emphasize to them that that’s OK. I don’t want them to feel intimidated before they even get to class! I’m most interested in finding out what they don’t know. During the class I don’t want to overwhelm them with problems that at too hard, and I also don’t want to bore them with problems that are too easy. I want every kid to learn something new during this 10-week session, and the test will give me an idea of what I can teach them. The class is small so that I can individualize the class for each student.

Instructor: Jolene Gleason