Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Early figures show Galway leading the country in the MATHletes Challenge signups

Leinster and Munster in tight battle for Schools Challenge

Galway students and teachers have once again proved that Connaught is a force to be reckoned with, leading the country in signups for the MATHletes Challenge 2014. Galway students have signed up at a rate over 2.5 times more per capita than the next highest county Carlow. Galway primary schools lead signups for their Division of the Schools Challenge, and Galway schools have the overall highest participation rate based on the total number of schools in the County

How are they doing it? With the same determination and commitment that are the hallmarks of any world class athlete and student. While Gale force winds shake school buildings across the west, hundreds of students remain focused, emerging from school computer rooms late in the afternoon after staying on to work on maths problems online in Khan Academy. What is the motivation? Be named MATHletes Challenge Champion, bestowing pride (and prizes) on their school, their county, and on Connaught.

Word of the MATHletes Challenge 2014 is spreading quickly, so Galway will have to keep up the work to maintain its place on top. Launched in late January by Irish American Technology Entrepreneur Sean O’Sullivan and Department of Education Minister Ciaran Cannon, the national maths tournament has caught the attention of educators, parents, and students from Wexford to Donegal and Laois to Kerry. Based on the Khan Academy method of teaching and learning maths, MATHletes compete as individuals or with their schools for the Championship title and a piece of the €20,000 prize fund.

With registration opening on the 1st February, the first 10 days have seen over 700 students from 115 schools covering 24 counties sign up for MATHletes Challenge 2014. The number of entrants continues to grow each day. Spread by social media and word of moth, these figures reflect the enthusiasm among Irish students and teachers to bring fun, competition and good ol’ county rivalry to the world of maths learning.

Some Headline Figures-You do the Maths

While Connaught has the greatest per capital rate of student participation, Leinster just edges them the west into 2nd place for the most overall students at 40% of the total. While Munster follows with 26% of entrants, there have been impressive gains from Cork in the last few days spurred on by new secondary school signups. While Ulster (drawing students from Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal) makes up just 1% of signups, one of the competitions most driven primary principals hails from the far reaches of Donegal and has already shown that her small primary school will not be quieted under a blanket of Irish snow.

In the Schools Challenge, Dublin may lead in the most overall secondary schools signed up (12), but their participation rate of 6.6% pales in comparison to Meath and Tipperary, where 1 in 5 secondary schools are signed up for the MATHletes Challenge. The race is tight at the top of the Primary Division signups, with Leinster leading with 37%, followed by Munster with 33%.

Open to students in 5th and 6th class in primary school and 1st to 3rd years in secondary, there is a 56% to 44% split between the number of secondary school students and primary school students entered.

The brainchild of Sean O’Sullivan and supported by the Department of Education and Skills and National Education Centres across Ireland, Mr O’Sullivan said, “just two weeks into the Challenge, it is becoming clear that we can use Khan Academy as an effective tool and motivator to transform how their students learn maths. Most importantly, we see kids getting hooked on the MATHletes Challenge, and having fun. There is a real sense of momentum behind the competition, with thousands more students expected to sign up over the coming weeks.”

Students and teachers are reminded to signup now and start competing: the earlier a student signs up, the more time they have to gain points in the competition. There is still plenty of time to top the leaderboards at mathletes.ie.