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Feb 14, 2018

On Valentine’s, Olympiad Teaches A.C.C. Students to Love Math

The third annual Math Olympiad was held today in Belize City to test the ability of participating students in formulating answers to rigorous mathematical questions.  Taking off from the defunct national math Olympiad once organized by the Social Security Board, the Anglican Cathedral College is attempting to encourage enthusiasm and love for math. To make the event more interesting and inclusive, the high school has incorporated other competitions.   At the end of the competition, first place winners were Brizuela Rafael, Darlee Gentle, Kenroy Gillett and Windell Pook from Usher House. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

By tradition, mathematics has not been the most favored subject at the primary and secondary levels.  This is often evident in the results of the annual PSE and CSEC exams.  One Belize City high school is attempting to turn things around by encouraging students to participate in an arithmetic challenge.

 

Ana Olivera-Reyes

Ana Olivera-Reyes, Head of Math Department, A.C.C.

“It’s an Olympiad that we have been doing for three years now, but we have been doing it in the classroom and we have never had the entire school body in one place.  So this year we are trying to get everyone together, everybody to celebrate mathematics and to stimulate students to appreciate and love mathematics a little bit more.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now traditionally, as far as primary and high school go, students are generally fearful of math as a subject.  Most people perhaps aren’t as enthusiastic about math as they are about other subjects.  So why math on Valentine’s Day?”

 

Ana Olivera-Reyes

“We definitely want to build that enthusiasm.  Along with the Math Olympiad we also ran three other competitions.  A school doors banner competition to allow students to show their creativity highlighting mathematics and they also had a song competition talking about mathematics, singing about mathematics.  We know how students love music and so integrated that for them to, stimulate them a bit leading towards the Olympiad.  Then we also had a competition for poetry and so we use these different avenues to definitely stimulate students.”

 

The winning team in this year’s competition also gets to commute points towards their respective houses leading up to Sports Day.

 

Ana Olivera-Reyes

“We also integrated the sports competitions, so the winners of the Olympiad give a hundred points to their house.  And so they love sports and as you can hear them when their house members are winning they are cheering and so they are actually cheering for mathematics also and that is something we are trying to integrate to stimulate them to make that approach in actually trying to appreciate mathematics because they do mathematics every day.  They just have that mental block and we want to change that mentality.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“How do you emphasize the importance of mathematics in everyday life outside of the school curriculum, because eventually these young men and women will go out into the world of work and perhaps have to rely on certain basic math skills to do simple calculations of taxes or change or that sort of stuff?”

 

Ana Olivera-Reyes

“In the classroom, we try to integrate like when we’re calculating electricity bills, we have them bring their actual bills.  We have them calculate and show them what these numbers represent on your actual bill and so it’s something that they can communicate to their family.  So we’re actually taking mathematics outside of the school into their homes.”

 

The idea, according to the Head of the Math Department at ACC, is to expand the competition by inviting secondary schools across the country to participate in the annual challenge.

 

Ana Olivera-Reyes

“Eventually, we want to take the Olympiad to compete against other schools and so now we’re testing it for ACC and after that we want to take it outside.  Again, our main objective is to integrate mathematics into a fun activity; something that they want to do, something that excites them and also something for them to share and so if we can bring in all other high schoolers from the other schools integrated in a program like this, we can get mathematics being spread countrywide, throughout the schools and eventually we’ll have more students loving mathematics.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

 

Dunn House placed second in today’s competition. 

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