While many educators agree that it is essential to improve the quality of math education in our public schools, a debate persists about how it should be done. Do we work with the students who are struggling, so that they can do better? Or do we push the students who are excelling, so they can move on to even greater things? Budgets are tight and many schools are pushed to decide one path or the other. Fortunately, many online resources can challenge gifted math students with new coursework and an outlet for their ingenuity. Here’s what you should know if you’re an educator or parent in need of inspiration.
Challenge Math is meant for students in grades 2-6 who have shown great talent for mathematics and who are eager for an extra outlet. It’s set up with two semesters of coursework, a fall and a spring, which can be done separately or together. It focuses on problem-solving strategies suitable for their age group, including diagrams, lists, logic, and learning how to work backwards from a solution. An early start on cultivating a love for math can go a long way in a child’s education, and learning how to solve problems logically is a useful skill in many contexts.
Math Zoom is another rigorous, yet fun, math course for students who have demonstrated an excellence in the subject. It has both an in-person and online options, and both provide training for students who would like to enter into mathematics competitions. Like many of these courses, they focus on areas of math and problem solving which go beyond what the typical classroom can provide. In addition, they offer a deep level of analytical, logical, and problem solving training which can help them when taking advanced high school or university level math courses. The Math Zoom academy provides training and coaching to push gifted students into their full potential and help them experience the brilliant world of mathematics firsthand.
Omega Math is affiliated with Woodbury University and offers online math courses for both credit and non-credit options. It has a full range of class levels, from basic math skills all the way up to Calculus III. For people who love math and want to further their understanding of it at any level with the option of getting extra college credit, this is a great resource. It is entirely online, so the learning can happen on your own or with help from the online tutors, and upon passing the course, a student will have a college transcript and list of credits when taken with the credit option. There’s even a business calculus option for those interested in learning how calculus can relate to real world business problems. More info on great careers for math wizzes can be found at thebestcolleges.org
Alumcus is a free online set of mathematics courses designed to get harder as the student learns more and becomes capable of more advanced calculations. Also, if a certain topic becomes harder to pass, there are more problems which can be added into the curriculum to give extra practice. There are built-in progress reports, so everyone can see where they’ve done the best and where they need extra work, to give the student a genius-level degree of understanding what they know and what they’ve improved upon.
Math carries with it very important problem solving and logic skills which can be applied to anyone’s life. It is very important, therefore, that students with a gift for math develop their skills as fully as possible, or that talent will not be properly strengthened.
Joseph Rodriguez writes all about math and education. His recent work is on the best Masters programs in Math in the US.