Friday, March 27, 2009

Facets of Gifted Education: Lou DiGioia and MATHCOUNTS

Today in the "Facets" series, we're talking with Lou DiGioia, the executive director of MATHCOUNTS, which is the nation's largest middle school math enrichment, coaching and competition program. Every year, hundreds of thousands of students participate -- including, I'm sure, many children of Gifted Exchange readers -- and alums include everyone from, well, DiGioia to me! DiGioia also hosts a blog called "Rational Expressions" at the MATHCOUNTS web site. I invite readers to share their MATHCOUNTS experiences in the comments section.

GE: Tell us a little bit about why 7th and 8th graders should check out MATHCOUNTS.

DiGioia: Because there is something in it for everyone! If a student needs help in math, there are lots of free resources that can help give them that extra boost they need to improve their abilities. If a student is looking for a new challenge in math, the problems in our competitions are sure to test students no matter how good their skills are!

GE: Has the competition changed in any way over the years?

DiGioia: Not at all. The competition still consists of 4 levels - school, chapter, state and national, and the tests we give today are still in the same format as when we started. The questions change each year, but they still maintain our high standards for creativity.

GE: Are there any famous former Mathletes?


DiGioia: Besides me? Kidding of course! There are former mathletes in all walks of life, and we have highlighted several alums who have done some amazing things on our website, www.mathcounts.org. That being said, it's amazing where I'll run into former mathletes. At a recent conference I met the Mayor of Pittsburgh, Luke Ravenstahl, who informed me that he did MATHCOUNTS when he was in middle school.

GE: What will it take to get more young Americans aiming for science, math and technology careers?

DiGioia: A commitment on the part of all parties involved to improving education. This includes the students, parents, teachers, school systems, and the government to work together to emphasize the importance of math education. I think we're finally seeing increased awareness of just how important math is on a large scale and the message is being pushed down to the grassroots level. It certainly helps when the President makes math education one of the top priorities of his education agenda!

3 comments:

Kevin said...

What do you do when none of the local schools participate in Mathcounts? Our county has a once-a-year math contest (unaffiliated with any higher organization). I've convinced a couple of math teachers to give the AMC8 test, but Mathcounts doesn't seem to be feasible locally.

Anonymous said...

You can participate in the MathCounts competition as an individual. Then, the school level competition because just for practice.

At chapter the team test is just for fun. You can still make CountDown (if your state does CountDown) and win individual prizes.

In Oklahoma, at chapter they pick the top 4 kids who are NOT on a team going to state to advance as members of an "All-Star" squad.

These all-star members are eligible for CountDown and individual prizes.

We went this route for two years because we were homeschooling.

Mama Bear said...

Mathcounts is a great program. My son loved it. And it's very inexpensive.