R.I. Baker students take math skills to international competition

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Students Ethan Meyer and Sye Perry, holding their tests, had the best scores among the 35 R.I. Baker students in the competition.

Grade 7 and 8 students at R.I. Baker Middle School had a taste of international competition this spring, in a test of math skills organized by the University of Waterloo.

Of the 35 Coaldale students competing, Grade 7 student Sye Perry earned top marks, while Ethan Meyer topped Grade 8 results. They won’t know until this fall how they fared against tens of thousands of students from around the world.

Teacher Brody Turnbull says based on the results of last year’s University of Waterloo Centre for Education in Math and Computing contest, several R.I. Baker students could receive certificates of distinction for finishing in the top 25 per cent of students. Students in different countries write the test on a common date, and tests are marked locally by their own teacher, who submits the results online. CEMC provides resources to help students prepare.

Regardless of their individual results, the students can be proud of their hard work, their practice and their willingness to put their problem solving skills up against students from around the globe, Turnbull says.

Turnbull, who was introduced to the competition when he was a student teacher, says the test begins with straightforward number problems but soon move to complex word problems and some university level math.

He says many of the students who signed up for the event aren’t math superstars but they were game to stay after school for practice sessions. As Turnbull told his students, competing in an international event looks good on a resume.

“It’s just a really good opportunity and it gets them familiar with the University of Waterloo,” Turnbull says.

One of the skills students demonstrate during the test is risk taking. They have an option to skip a certain number of questions for partial marks, or risk answering them wrong and getting no marks. They have to be strategic, Turnbull says.

He’s especially happy to see Perry do so well given the push to encourage more women and girls to explore science, technology, engineering and math.

For more information on the massive competition, please visit cemc.uwaterloo.ca.

To watch a feature done by "A Public Education" on this contest, please click here. "A Public Education' is co-sponsored by Alberta Teachers' Association Palliser Local 19.