Every Tuesday since October, a small group of 6th and 7th graders have met to debate and discuss the best strategies to solve a wide range of math problems. Topics include probability, geometry, algebra and number sense and make use of analytical thinking and math creativity. All of this is part of their preparation for monthly math competitions.

Math club members prepare for monthly competitions.

Math club members prepare for monthly competitions.

This first iteration of the Avenues math club participates in two competitive math leagues: Math Olympiads (MOEMS) and Continental Math League (CML). Each league holds a contest every month for five months. Each contest consists of either five or six questions that students have 30 minutes to answer individually. Scores are entered and tracked to see how Avenues ranks among other participating schools across the nation. According to the MOEMS website, last year nearly 170,000 students from 6,000 teams participated in the Olympiad, from all 50 U.S. states and about 30 other countries.

Working together on practice problems.

Working together on practice problems.

As the group leader, I wanted to give an outlet to these students who love tackling challenging problems and pushing themselves to get to an answer even when it seems impossible. One member, Roxie, said, “I enjoy stretching my abilities in math,” and another, Praharsha, agreed, “it’s actually hard.” These 6th and 7th graders have not only been participating in the 7th grade level competitions, but they have also regularly been opting to partake in the 8th grade level CML competitions.

Both school teams and individuals are tracked on the leader board. Our club members scored, on average, 4.29 out of 6 on the 7th grade level CML meets, and 4.27 out of 6 on the 8th grade level CML meets. Out of the 7 schools in New York State that participated in all of the 7th grade CML competitions so far, Avenues ranks second in cumulative team scores. And for the more challenging 8th grade level meets, we rank 5th out of 11 schools in New York State.

The math club participates in two competitive leagues.

The math club participates in two competitive leagues.

At the meetings that fall between competitions, students gather to discuss the strategies used in previous contests and then work together on more practice problems. It’s great to see the students expanding their knowledge beyond math class and strengthening their problem-solving skills. The group was disappointed to find out that the math competition season was ending in March. We hope to continue the club next year!