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Going Digital Doubles Contestants in Popular Math Contest

Wed, 12/04/2013 - 4:00pm
Maplesoft

Waterloo, Canada — The popular math contest Who Wants to Be a Mathematician underwent a makeover this year — the contest that was administered on pen-and-paper moved to a digital format. The number of students in the contest doubled in 2013, with over 2000 students from over 150 schools participating. Maplesoft’s testing and assessment tool, Maple T.A. was used to administer the tests online, saving significant time and money for the organizers.

Who Wants to Be a Mathematician is a math contest for high school students, organized by the American Mathematical Society (AMS) as part of its Public Awareness Program. Maplesoft has been a sponsor of the contest for many years. This year, the company increased its sponsorship to a “Technology Sponsor” level, and made its testing and assessment tool, Maple T.A., accessible to every student that participated. The increased sponsorship is part of Maplesoft’s year-long activities that support and encourage the use of math among high school students and young adults, in celebration of the company’s 25th year of incorporation.

Contestants of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician took an online test, supervised by a teacher, and the tests were graded automatically by Maple T.A.  Students with 80 percent and above moved to a second round, also administered by Maple T.A. Ten students  have been chosen for the semifinals,  and two will qualify for the finals at the Joint Math Meetings in January 2014.

Custom test questions were created in Maple T.A., which were accessed by students from a server hosted by Maplesoft. The simple and easy-to-use interface of Maple T.A. enabled the students to take the test without spending time learning the tool. Maple T.A. supports the use of standard mathematical notation in both the question text and student responses. Maple T.A. also allows free-response questions, including questions that have more than one correct answer.

“With the technological advancements around us, it only seemed natural that we should move our contest online,” said Michael Breen, host of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician. “In Maplesoft, we found a strong partner, who not only donated its testing platform but also contributed personnel resources to ensure the tests were customized and administered in a timely fashion. The fact that the number of contestants doubled this year is testament to the ease-of-use features that Maple T.A. provides. We are grateful to Maplesoft for helping us reignite the love of math in many students.”

“Encouraging the study of math amongst youth and young adults, and providing the technology tools to aid in those studies, is a mission we have chosen to highlight in Maplesoft’s 25th anniversary year,” said Jim Dell, Vice President, Marketing. “Among many other projects we have chosen to support, Who Wants to Be a Mathematician is special because of the number of high school students involved. We are happy with the response Maple T.A. has received from the students and their teachers, and hope to build on this sponsorship in the coming years.”

For more information about the contest that is currently in progress, visit the AMS Web site: http://www.ams.org/programs/students/wwtbam/wwtbam .

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