Program Description


The four components of the program are an excellent curriculum, coaches with strong math backgrounds, time spent working math problems, and parental support.


Curriculum

The curriculum is US editions of Singapore Primary math workbooks (SUS). Singapore is the only top performing country whose instructional language is English. Each girl starts at a level that is determined on Evaluation Day.

Each grade level has two main workbooks with 50-90 exercises each that cover the topics for the grade. Members working at their grade level at the recommended pace of one exercise per day typically do an additional 2 workbooks each year. Some offer only more practice, which can be a good choice because the curriculum includes little repetition. Others offer a balance of additional practice and challenge problems.

Challenge problems use only grade level skills, but require sustained sequential reasoning. They are hard. The problem solving skills developed are useful both for middle and high school math contests, and in many contexts outside of math. These problems, and help in learning how to solve them, are the most valuable feature of our program for strong math students.

Girls who have mastered the material in the Singapore workbooks through level 6, then use books that contain challenging problems from US math competitions.

We also use Kenken puzzles, which involve both problem solving and arithmetic practice. If needed, worksheets are used to boost fluency (e.g., for 2-digit addition and subtraction after level 1 and multiplication after level 3).

The SUS curriculum overlaps with but is not aligned with Common Core (CC). For example SUS gently introduces multiplication and division in first grade, and each year works with larger numbers. SUS emphasizes mental math, i.e., doing problems in your head. SUS does not ask students to explain their work but does ask them to use diagrams (bar models) in the process of solving hard problems. This is a useful tool that allows students to solve algebra problems without algebra and helps them build a very strong number sense. The problem solving emphasis means they practice analyzing non routine problems and choose their own solution strategy from many possibilities.


Coaches

During the weekly meetings coaches help girls who have questions while they work in their workbooks. The coaches also assess the younger girls periodically, both to see how their fluency is developing and to see whether the girls are ready to move ahead once they finish a grade level. Outside the meetings Coach Barb is available (stem.pump@gmail.com) to parents with questions or concerns.

Coaches Serena, Claudia, and Angelina are top high school students with math competition experience. Coach Mallory is a Foundation Fellow and very strong undergraduate math student at UGA. Coach Natalie is a math graduate student at UGA. Coach Barb has a BS in math from MIT, and a Finance PhD. AAGMT started in 2009 with three girls at her kitchen table. Coach Bill is a professor of math at UGA.


Homework

Your child's benefit is largely determined by her own time and effort. Similar to piano lessons, the program is designed so that approximately 3/4 of the work takes place outside our meetings. Homework will not be explicitly assigned. Completing one exercise (1-3 pages) daily results in four finished workbooks in a year. This is our recommendation.


Parent Responsibilities

Arrange and encourage homework at a steady pace. This is a significant responsibility and necessary to develop strong math skills via this program. Girls who stay behind their school grade level will be surrounded by girls in our meetings who work regularly at home. By 3rd grade they all seem to start noticing and caring.

Correct your child's finished exercises. This is extremely important for you child's learning. Answer booklets are provided.


Effects

We want to create a community where excellence and hard work in math outside of school are normal. We like hearing girls report their successes at school and in competitions, and love seeing their identities as excellent math students form. We hope that they will want to continue their extracurricular math activities in middle and high school where the competitions are full of intriguing problems. We expect that they will employ the skills they acquire at math team in pursuit of their own goals.

Some AAGMT members have received external recognition.

In spring of 2014 Clarke County initiated a district-wide math contest for 4th and 5th grade students. AAGMT had two girls in the relevant grades. They came in 1st and 4th. Later that spring they teamed up to score in the top half of a middle school contest for teams of up to six students.

In fall of 2014 our lone 6th grader made the Achievement Roll for the AMC 8, a middle school contest organized by the Mathematical Association of America.

In spring of 2015, AAGMT had three girls in the relevant grades in Clarke County public schools. All were chosen to represent their school, as was a 3rd grader. In the district-wide contest, two came in first and second and the 3rd grader came in 9th. Two girls were second in their grade at a math contest sponsored by the Korean Scientists and Engineers Association.