Mathematical Olympiad Problems in the Regular Classroom

16 Jul

Mathematical Olympiad Problems in the Regular Classroom

Connections, Visualization & Metacognition
Yeap Ban Har
National Institute of Education


One of the characteristics of the Singapore education system is that average students in the system are high-achieving. This characteristic is important in producing a general population and, hence, workforce of high calibre. A high calibre workforce is essential for a knowledge-based economy such as Singapore’s. In this lecture, we discuss one of the ways to bring about this outcome – the opportunity for every student to experience high-level thinking through mathematics problem.

Problem 1
A small hamster sits at a corner of a square with side 10 m. The hamster runs 6.2 m along a diagonal towards the opposite corner. It stops, makes a 90o right turn and runs another 2 m. A scientist measures the shortest distance between the hamster and each side of the square. Find the average of these four distances.

What if the hamster moves to a different spot?

Adapted from 23rd Annual American Mathematics Competitions for Grade 8 (AMC8) 2007

This problem illustrates how our minds are encouraged to go beyond the details to see its essence. The ability of the mind to monitor and manage information is metacognition. Well-selected problems can be used to help students develop metacognition.

This problem also requires students to visualize to find the total of the four required distances

Read more here from NIE.  More questions included in his discussion. Perhaps our education system do favour more non routine questions in the coming years. What do you think ?

One Response to “Mathematical Olympiad Problems in the Regular Classroom”

  1. Leung yan ping July 28, 2009 at 1:18 pm #

    it is good to have Mathematical Olympiad Problems in the Regular Classroom ,because the class will be more fun and interesting and we can spend our time thinking of the problems.

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