The Mathematics Olympiad for Elementary and Middle Schools (MOEMS) program was created in 1977, over thirty years ago.
I love the program because its math problems are interesting and well-posed. A math problem created with care allows the problem-solver to focus on the math more than the wording. There is an Elementary School program, suited to 4th and 5th grade students (ages 9 and 10), and a Middle School program, for 6th through 8th grades (ages 11 through 13).
How it works:
For details, please go to the web site, moems.org. Here is a snapshot:
The program consists of five contests, held mid-November, mid-December, mid-January, mid-February, and mid-March.
Each contest consists of five problems, with a time limit.
There are two levels of contest, Elementary and Middle. When you register, you register for one of them.
It is easy to hold the contests. All you do is register at the web site, and determine a time and place each month to administer the contests. The kids need space to sit and write, scratch paper, pencils, and erasers. The coach needs a clock or timer.
When you register, you will be given a place to list your participants names and scores. One of the benefits of registering is that statistics are collected from all participants. For example, you can see which problems had few correct solutions, and which problems had many correct solutions (anonymously of course).
Each month, you can download and print the contest-of-the-month to administer to your participants.
Grading the contests is very easy. Each question is worth one point, no partial credit. A solution set is provided for the coach. The solutions are right/wrong simple items such as whole numbers or letters. This does not mean that the program emphasizes clever guessing or answers over process. On the contrary.
The problems are designed to be challenging enough that experience and good problem-solving process is required to consistently get correct answers. In other words, the contests themselves are only snapshots. The learning process takes place in the preparation and practice for the contest.
It is difficult for kids to come in and do the contests cold–if they have never seen such problems before. But what is wonderful is how amazing they are when given the opportunity to practice. I have been surprised over and over again by what the kids can accomplish if given some practice and tools.
MOEMS publishes three books which are a trove of problems for math contests. These books are a good complement to Professor Bear’s Workbooks.
If you were to get just one MOEMS publication, I recommend this one. It’s a later edition of contest problems and separates the problems into Elementary level and Middle level.
The book is a collection of 5-problem contests, with solutions.
It’s a great resource for mixes of problems.
This is the first collection of math olympiad contests, dating back from when the program was not differentiated into Elementary and Middle.
This is a great resource of practice problems, especially for people who straddle the Elementary and Middle school levels.
This is another great math club resource with chapters on various aspects of problem solving. It is another good complement to Professor Bear’s workbooks. The organization of topics and choice of topics is different, and is a good preparation for the Math Olympiad contests.