Title of Project: Mathematics in Science Fairs

Year of Competition: 2002/2003

Grant amount: $3000

Project Duration: Single Year

Type of Report: Final

Period Covered: October 15, 2002, to April 15, 2003

Description of Activity:
Work with students and teachers (mostly at secondary schools) to invent and develop mathematical projects suitable for exhibition at science fairs. The inward, contemplative side of the subject makes this a challenging task. The programme had PIMS (the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences) as its main sponsor, took place within the frame-work of the Science Fair Foundation (BC), and was structured as follows. The detailed interaction with students and teachers was carried out by the "Project Developer," Wendy Nielsen, a graduate student in the UBC Faculty of Education. She gave out 300 promotional brochures, and spoke to many teachers at the annual meeting of the BC Math Teachers'r Assoc.,last October. She eventually received invitations from only six teachers to run workshops in their classes for a total of 163 students. The projects so obtained were screened in the individual schools, so that 20 projects were finally submitted to the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair. Although the GVRSF did its own systematic judging, PIMS recruited a smaller group of judges (mostly from the UBC Math Dept) to award its total of 10 prizes in the 3 divisions of the fair (Senior, Intermediate, Junior). It also funded the travel to the National Fair at Calgary for the top 2 students.

Assessment of Effectiveness:
  • Over the years, a fair number of mathematicians have played the role of judges for the PIMS award. They interacted with students and teachers in a most respectful manner, and were gnerally impressed by the keenness of the participants -- who, by the way, were not your standard "brains"

  • The participating teachers did some informal "professional development", i.e., they learned some mathematics and, more importantly, saw that this subject offers unbounded learning opportunities. It is safe to assume that the visiting public also came away with new impressions.

  • Apart from the self-inflicted PIMS awards, 1 of the 2 students sent to Calgary received a national Golsd Medal.

  • The list of corporate sponsors appears on the GVRSF web-site. Apart from the CMS and PIMS, there seemed to be no sponsors for mathematics specifically.
Future Plans (if any):
Repeat the same process next year. The Project Developper, Wendy Dorn, is exceptially radiant and enthusiastic about school mathematics.


PIMS support  (as per budget):
CMS support (Endowment Grant):

Honorarium for Project Developper:
Travel expenses:
$ 106.26
Calgary travel for 2 top students:
PIMS Prizes at GVR Science Fair:
$ 700.00
Overhead paid to BC Science World:
$ 400.00

Contact Name: Klaus Hoechsmann

[September 5, 2003]