Volunteers Make Math Come Alive at Morse

Volunteers Make Math Come Alive at Morse
Posted on 06/20/2016
mathSubmitted by: Regina Byrnes, Math Coach

On any given Thursday AM at Morse, if you stopped by the library, you would see students from grades 3, 4 and 5 working together to solve challenging math problems as part of the Math Olympiads math program at the Morse School. Math Olympiads is an international organization that for the past 36 years has promoted enthusiasm and interest in mathematical problem solving for students in grades 4 through 8 who are ready to engage in mathematical problem-solving at a level beyond their grade level mathematics. Morse School has sponsored Math Olympiads Teams for over 10 years, and those teams have participated in the international math contests offered 5 times a year.

For the past few years, however, under the influence of volunteer Gromek Smolen (father of PAUS 6th grader, Halina, and Morse third grader, Lily), the program has expanded and become more engaging for students. Under Gromek’s guidance, the introduction of weekly “Math Disasters” has shown students the importance of applied mathematics in real world situations and the importance of planning mathematically in order to “get it right”. Students have learned of bridge and building collapses, plane crashes, and satellites missing their planetary targets because of errors in math judgments and faulty mathematical designs.

Gromek’s spirit of volunteerism has recruited volunteers from his company, Agios, and he has enlisted other volunteers. One of those recruited, Grant Wilstead, father of Audrey, Grade 2 and Nicholas, Grade K, in kind recruited volunteers from his company, Editas. We now have a cadre of volunteers who give up their time on Thursday mornings to challenge our Math Olympiads’ “Mathletes”. Because of their efforts, for the past two years, we have been able to expand the program and now have a Junior Varsity team of 3rd grade Mathletes.

This year our results include two students placing in the top 2% internationally, 1 student in the top 10% and 3 students in the top 20%. We are proud of all the hard done by all our students and congratulate them for their effort and progress in thinking mathematically and solving very difficult math challenges.

The Morse Math Instructional Coach, Regina Byrnes, supports Morse Math Olympiads, but it comes alive for our students through the efforts of the volunteers who give of their time and energy each Thursday morning. Thanks to: Agios employees: Gromek Smolen, Erin Artin, Mark Duggan and Editas employees: Grant Welstead, Tanushree Phadke, Erik Corcoran.. And a special shout out to Gromek’s colleague, Wing Ngan, of Ink Design who has designed our special Morse Math Olympiad t-shirts for the past 3 years. We also thank Agios for covering the costs of producing the t-shirts. Math Olympiads is a success at the Morse School because of the effort of all these volunteers. THANK YOU!