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Mini mathletes hop into action at Concordia's Canadian Kangaroo Contest

This Sunday, 261 school-aged kids tackle brain-twisters for all skill levels
March 18, 2016


On March 20, 261 young mathletes — elementary and high school students from across the Montreal region — will converge on Concordia to take part in the Canadian Math Kangaroo Contest, a national competition that debuted in 2001. 

Every year, Math Kangaroo contests around the world attract more than 5 million students.

Math education expert Anna Sierpinska, a professor in Concordia's Department of Mathematics and Statistics, brought the competition to the university in 2012.

This year's event is led by PhD candidate Ildiko Pelczer and department administrator Jane Venettacci. What makes the contest special, Pelczer says, is that it's accessible to all young students, regardless of their mathematical abilities. 

"The problems are designed with different levels of difficulty, so everybody can do something. And even though it's not far from the school curriculum, the problems are still formulated in an interesting way, so it's not just plain calculation."

As Sierpinska points out, the competition is particularly popular among students in elementary school.

"The young children have fun with math, that's it. They have friends there, and they just come and enjoy themselves — playing with children who have the same kinds of interests as they have, thinking about a problem and twisting it around."

Students who return tend to do better, Pelczer says. "They come back and they're stronger, so we have better results every year at the national level, not just at the local level."

There's even a component of the contest for parents who've come to cheer on their children, so they can flex their perhaps long-dormant math muscles.

"It's a compilation of problems to give them a feeling of what it's about," Pelczer says. 

As asssociate professor Nadia Hardy explains, engaging the Montreal community is important to Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

"Whether it's hosting or participating in mathematical competitions for elementary to high school children, or sponsoring mathematical competitions and student-related activities, we are dedicated to continuing our involvement, and finding new ways of increasing our outreach.”

Find out more about the 2016 Canadian Math Kangaroo Contest at Concordia.



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