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The 2009 American Math Challenge

Oct 13, 2009

Math lovers, start your engines! The nonprofit MATHCOUNTS foundation has announced the 2009 American Math Challenge. Middle school students nationwide are invited to compete in November for the title of American Math Champion.

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Student performing math equations on a blackboard

Using the digital learning software Mathletics, MATHCOUNTS will host this year's American Math Challenge online from November 9-16. Students ages 9-14 can register now on their website. The student with the highest score receives a gold medal and will be declared the American Math Champion, and the top three entrants will represent the U.S. during the 2010 World Math Day.

The organizers of the competition hope to increase interest in mathematics and promote international standards of math education. Scott Flansburg, the Guinness World Record holder for 'Fastest Human Calculator,' is acting as ambassador for the challenge and next year's World Math Day. He notes that the multi-player game environment of the challenge will help 'make math exciting,' offering a little educational fun as well as competition for the participants.

Teacher helping student with math on a blackboard

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Math Education in the United States

A student who excels in math may have a future in science, computers, engineering - even music. Because achievement in mathematics is so closely linked to success in other areas, America has a vested interest in promoting math education. To this end, the U.S. has participated for over a decade in the quadrennial Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). The study, which collected its last data set in 2007, reports on the math and science achievements of fourth and eighth grade students around the world.

TIMMS 2007 data

Percentage of U.S. fourth- and eighth-grade students reaching each TIMSS international mathematics benchmark as compared with the international median percentage: 2007. Source here

As the graph above indicates, American students are consistently meeting and exceeding expectations at all levels of math performance. This trend is promising for both the future of America's youth and for the success of the nation as a whole. Students who excel in math today may grow up to be tomorrow's world leaders in science and technology - a hopeful picture for our struggling economy.

Events like the American Math Challenge hope to keep the positive math trend going. They encourage participation in math education by offering a reminder that math can be exciting and fun - for kids of any age.

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