Monday, June 26, 2017

The Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival in Hong Kong (Video, App and Abundant Math Opportunities)

Hong Kong’s inaugural Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival (JRMF) was held at the Singapore International School (Hong Kong) on April 1st 2017 from 10:00am to 1:00pm. In partnership with the American Institute of Mathematics, the JRMF makes mathematics accessible to every student of all abilities, and focuses on collaborative problem-solving, as opposed to the competitive nature of mathematics examinations and contests, so that students can enjoy the richness and beauty of mathematics without any anxiety.

Guided by mathematics teachers and other mathematics lovers in the community, 248 students aged 10 to 14 worked on a variety of mathematical problems, puzzles and activities. Of these students, 230
(92%) came from local schools (Singapore International School, Chinese International School, Tung Wah Group Schools, ESF Island School among others). The mathematical activity at each table was specially designed to be initially easy and then progressively become challenging. These mathematically deep problem sets came with interesting names: "The Tower of Hanoi - and Beyond", "Broken Calculators", "The Game of Criss-cross", "Exploding Dot Puzzle", "Algebra Game", "Algebra Maze", "Leo The Rabbit", "Mobius Strip", "Number Game of Randomness", "Rubik Cube Machine!" among others. 

See Video Clip below on how students had a blast at doing mathematics! Dr. Mark Saul, Executive Director of The Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival, commented "They're choosing to do the Mathematics. And that's what is important!". 

Students roamed freely around and chose to go to any table to work on the problem sets. The facilitator at each table rewarded students with a raffle for demonstrating persistence in working on the math problems on hand or showing collaborative learning spirit (e.g., helping fellow peers at the table). Thirty raffle prizes such as Festival T-shirts, math games and books were given out at the end of the festival. To let all the participants meet the man behind the mathematics (to see their human faces flashed across the screen), we have even named each of the Raffle prizes after brilliant mathematicians whose short biography are read out before drawing the lucky winner of the raffle prize (see image below). The facilitators and overseas guests (Dr. Mark Saul and VIP guests from Mainland China and Taiwan —see group dinner picture below) had the honor to give out the Raffle prizes to the lucky students!

For the first time, mobile app software was leveraged at the JRMF for students to develop a stronger intuition to the mathematical problems through observation and experimentation. Even after the festival, the mobile app continues to encourage collaborative and creative problem-solving between the students and their parents and teachers. See our JRMF App screenshots below and install the Apple iOS version or the Android version to get a taste of some of the fun mathematics at the JRMF in Hong Kong!

Amidst the fun in mathematics, participants took away fond memories of doing challenging mathematics. With the new friendships forged, we look forward to the infinitely many opportunities and creative ideas to make Mathematics accessible to many more students. A Press Release and many more pictures and videos of the Festival can be found at the JRMF Hong Kong website!

"They're choosing to do the Mathematics. And that's what is important!"
 — Dr. Mark Saul, Executive Director of The Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival

Thirty Raffle Prizes named after Brilliant Mathematicians at the JRMF in Hong Kong

Screenshots of JRMF App used at JRMF in Hong Kong. The JRMF App continues to encourage collaborative and creative problem-solving between the students and their parents and teachers even after the JRMF Festival ends. 

JRMF Organizing Team and Overseas VIP Guests enjoying a "Festive Dinner" together: Dr Mark Saul, Executive Director of the JRMF, Ms. Cherry Pu and Team from Mainland China and Mr. Ho and Team from Taiwan.

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