Academics Olympic Style
When I was in 6th grade, my school district hosted a district wide competition open to all students. The challenge was to create a product to meet an under met or unmet need in education. I thought it sounded like fun, and signed up for the competition. I immediately started researching how the USA performed in mathematics. The results I found horrified me! In 2015 only 33% of 4th graders were considered proficient in mathematics, and a mere 25% of 8th graders were proficient according to Pew Research Center. I began doing more research and learned two very important concepts:
Algebra is called the gatekeeper subject. Algebra alone serves as a measure of predictability for success in higher level mathematic course
Algebra is the most failed course in high schools and colleges
At this point in my school career, I had not taken Algebra yet, but I was becoming more and more aware of how important it was. While researching how I could help underperforming students in math, I noticed a trend. The common theme was strong math fluency helps build strong mathematic learners. I realized this was an area I could address. Learning math facts, known as math fluency, is really beneficial for you. I reasoned if your brain was not bogged down trying to figure out the answer to an addition, multiplication, division, or subtraction problem it was free to engage in higher level thinking. I knew I could address this area, because let’s face it: fact worksheets, while beneficial are boring. I decided to create a product where answering math questions correctly, not necessarily quickly, would earn you points. Then I could create a running total of those points for display.
I used the Olympics as my inspiration, and made teams. In the Olympics, you have several different athletes with different strengths all working towards a common goal, earning the gold for their country. In Acalympics, I wanted to do the same thing. The students would all be placed on a team, and could login to earn points, by answering fluency questions correctly, for their team. My idea was once a month, quarter, semester, whatever the teams would be awarded the Gold, Silver and Bronze. I wanted to make the teams flexible, so if one grade is constantly outperforming another, you could rearrange the teams for a closer competition. My ultimate goal is not only for the school to compete with themselves, but to host this competition, so schools can compete against other schools, and districts against districts (I am still working on that). My reason for this is, at the end of the day, there is a whole lot of math fact review going on.
A little bit about me, I am currently a 7th grade student that wanted to help people, and had an idea. The superintendent asked me how to get my idea into his classrooms, so I started trying to learn how to make a website. It has been a whole lot of work (and a big “thank you” goes to my dad), but I have learned a whole lot too. When I am not working on this website, I can be found spending time with my other passion, music. I play the alto saxophone and the piano and love every minute of it. Or you just might find me petting my dog. To close this About Tab, I want to leave you with a thought that inspires me. Simon Sinek said (and I am paraphrasing it) “What good is an idea, if it remains an idea? Make a plan, change the world.”
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