Math competitions offer a challenging opportunity to test your mathematical mettle and hone your problem-solving skills.
Why do math competitions?
- Solving Math Competitions problems is one of the best methods to learn and understand school mathematics.
- Do it for the challenge and the fun.
- Engage in a different kind of thinking than homework problems — much more akin to higher mathematics.
- Do math in a collaborative group setting.
- Do it for the teamwork and camaraderie.
- Do it, perhaps most importantly, because the way of thinking and the problem-solving skills you pick up will make understanding more advanced mathematical ideas that much easier.
The purpose of math competitions is to encourage students to explore, discover, and learn more about mathematics and problem solving.
If you do not currently engage in math competition, I encourage you to give it a try – both for your sake, and for the sake of your students. There are many math competitions and contests for you to choose from.
The most immediate value of math contests is to inspire students’ interest in mathematics and encourage them to value intellectual pursuits. Math contests thus motivate them to become good at mathematics just like sports encourage physical fitness.
Beyond encouraging an interest in mathematics, contests also help prepare students for competition. For better or worse, much of life is competition, be it for jobs or resources or whatever. Competition of any sort trains students to deal with success and failure, and teaches them that effective performance requires practice. They also get valuable certificates that can help them differentiate from the crowd when it comes to college admissions.
Furthermore, almost every interesting and worthwhile venture in life comes with some element of pressure. Math competitions greatly teach students how to efficiently handle pressure.