SMUS’s Club Hub: Math Challengers


SMUS students have access to a wide variety of extracurricular opportunities that interest them. We offer more than 100 fun and rewarding clubs or councils that provide students of all ages with leadership experience, skill development, and a chance to contribute to life on campus and in our greater community. The SMUS Review is currently highlighting these extracurricular activities and the passionate students who get involved.

Today, we meet Saje (Grade 9) and Alison (Grade 8), who both participate in Math Challengers, a club for Middle and Senior School students in grades 6-9.


What is the Math Challengers club?
Saje– Math Challengers is a club that prepares us for the Math Challengers contest. We meet once a week and we practice some of the questions, and learn different strategies and ideas. We’ve worked on factorials and geometry, polynomials – just a whole bunch of advanced math concepts we don’t necessarily do in class that will probably be in the contest.

Alison– The contest covers all different kinds of questions. There’s a couple of different sections and in each section there’s a couple of questions that get progressively harder. So at the beginning it’ll ask, “How many diagonal lines are in this pentagon?” and then at the end it’s like, “Find the area of a triangle, where there’s a square inside it, and a circle inside that, and you’re only given the circumference of the circle.” It’s tough, but it’s fun.

What is the Math Challengers contest?
Saje– Regionals happen in February at Camosun and teams of five from different schools compete. First you write two individual contests, and then you write a group contest with your team of five. The top 10 individual scores go to a face-off round, and then the top two teams go to Provincials, which is held alternately at UBC and SFU. This is my third year in Math Challengers and I’ve been to Provincials twice. It’s a really neat experience because it’s a travel opportunity that isn’t for sports or service.

Why did you join Math Challengers?
Alison– Because I like math; it’s fun. I’m probably alone in that for most of my grade, but I like it because there’s a lot of patterns in it. Also last year my teachers were bugging me about joining because I’m good at math, so I did this year.

Saje– I joined Math Challengers in Grade 7 because my homeroom teacher urged me to. I was doing Grade 8 math at the time so I joined and it was a great experience, and I’ve wanted to stick with it ever since.

What’s the time commitment like?

Alison– We meet once a week on Wednesdays at lunch. But you do the work at home, so that changes every week. You’re supposed to only spend 1-2 minutes on each question.

What do you enjoy most?
Saje– I like that this is a unique opportunity that the school gives. With a sports team you would train and you would travel and go to a competition. This is the same thing, but with math. I think it’s special to get that opportunity to travel with someone more academic.

Alison–I like the way Mr. Williams teaches. And I like the fun applications you do with math because it’s different than what you’d do in a usual math class.

What do you learn?
Alison– You learn more creative ways of solving problems, different types of problems, and how to use the math you already know to solve problems. You learn funky things like, yah, there’s the Pythagorean Theorem, but there’s also 30-60-90 triangles, and stuff like that. It’s a neat extension of what you learn in class.

Saje– I’ve definitely gained more math skills. There’s tons of things I’ve learned with this club that hasn’t even been in the curriculum yet. And you learn how to work with a team; definitely for the co-op competition, which is the team of five, that takes a lot of teamwork, it’s quite long and takes a lot of collaborating.

Would you recommend other students join Math Challengers?
Saje– Absolutely. I would recommend anybody who has any interest in math to come and try it out, even if they come to some meetings and learn new ideas without going to the contest. It’s still a good idea to learn new things and get the experience of being in a club.

Alison– Yes, if they feel like they can kind of think outside the box and do the trickier math problems. But if you feel like, ‘No, I hate math; it’s not my thing’ then don’t join.

SMUS students performed exceptionally well at the Vancouver Island contest in February, with five of our students (Larry Y., Sam S., Wilson Y., Alex Z., and Cindy L.) named among the top 10 competitors in the Grade 8 division, and five students (Saje, Ji Hee C., Tony L., Theodore W., and Jared R.) named in the top 10 of the Grade 9 division. These two SMUS teams will travel to Vancouver on April 11 to compete in the Math Challengers provincial contest. Good luck!

Learn more about all of the clubs, councils and extracurricular activities at SMUS’s Junior, Middle and Senior schools.

Kyle Slavin
Kyle Slavin is the school's storyteller. Through words and photos, he shares with the community all the amazing things that happen on campus.