Overview of the Contest

 Flickr page of images from the 2013 contest  
Susan Milner (far left) and some upper level UFV math students demonstrate geometric constructions at the 2009 contest.

The goal of the BC Secondary Schools High School Math Contest is to provide interested students (and their teachers) with a chance to have fun and stretch themselves a little mathematically. We are not trying to single out the very best of the province - there are other contests which do that. Instead, we want to get as many students as possible involved in doing and enjoying mathematics.

Originally, two or three colleges in BC ran their own regional math competitions. Now more than ten universities and colleges join together to offer their local high school students a chance to have fun at a regional math contest.

The contests are made up centrally by a group of faculty from various institutions, but are administered locally.

The questions vary in degree of difficulty, but our intention is that students who are reasonably good at high school math can successfully answer many of the questions. There are, of course, several few more challenging problems as well, for the students who find high school math "too easy".   One of our local high school teachers has said that it is good for students to get a chance to try problems which require more ingenuity than proficiency with algorithms: she said that many of her students surprised themselves by what they accomplished.

Previous years’ contests and complete solutions can be found at http://people.okanagan.bc.ca/clee/bcssmc/ .

Participants relax on the grass during a break at the 2010 contest.

The preliminary round of the contest is held in early April and is written in the participating high schools. It consists of 12 multiple-choice questions and takes 45 minutes. There are two levels: the junior contest is written by students in grades 8-10, while the senior contest is written by students in grades 11 and 12. The high school teachers mark the papers, using an answer key provided. There are no restrictions on the number of students who may write this round.

The final round is held at the beginning of May.  The top few students from each school are invited with their teachers to a campus of the sponsoring university or college. Again, there is a junior level and a senior level.  Each participating school may send up to 4 students to write the Junior exam and up to 4 students to write the Senior exam.  This round is made up of 10 multiple-choice questions and 5 long-answer questions.

While the students are writing the final round, their teachers have a chance to participate in professional development activities centred around - what else? - mathematics. Then while the contests are being marked, everyone else enjoys a lunch provided by the hosting institution and then goes on to enrichment activities.

Prizes for the final round are awarded at the end of the day. At UFV prizes include tuition waivers for the top seven seniors and top seven juniors, as well as gift certificates, books, puzzles and other goodies.

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