Maths Club adds to students motivation


26 March 2010 Maths Club adds to students motivation Youngsters born after the collapse of the Soviet Union are having fun improving their maths abilities using techniques used for elite students during the Soviet era. World ORTs Research and Development Coordinator, Dr Yakov Ronkin, has used his experience learning maths, combined with techniques developed during his years in Israel, to start a Maths Club. The club has been connecting children in Dnepropetrovsk, Kishinev, Moscow and Odessa via videoconference, with Dr Ronkin leading proceedings from London. Each session focuses on a different topic, such as developing strategies using matchsticks or solving problems using chess boards but the common denominator is having fun as well as intellectual stimulation. Students at Odessa Secondary School tackle graph theory with the help of students at Moscow ORT Technology School. We had a competition in 2007 for maths teachers from ORT schools across the Former Soviet Union and Dr Ronkin took the initiative to develop it into something educational for students, said Dr Sergey Gorinskiy, ORT Russias National Director. In the Soviet Union, maths education was among the best in the world; Dr Ronkin has modelled the Maths Club on those techniques, which were used at that time only for gifted children, and turned them into an effective means of popularising maths among students of all abilities. Recent videoconferenced sessions have included grade 5 students from the Levi Yitzchak Schneerson Ohr Avner School and students from the Chaia Mushka mahon in Dnepropetrovsk together with peers from the Kishinev ORT Technology Lyceum, and an introduction to graph theory for grade 8 students from the Moscow ORT Technology School together with the ORT Odessa Secondary School. Local teachers noted that taking part in the Maths Club allowed children to develop logic skills and spatial thinking, expand their imagination and cultivate a passion for the subject. Students motivation for maths has increased considerably, said Tatyana Ivashkova, Levi Yitzchak Schneerson Ohr Avner School Deputy Director. Children wait for the next videoconference with impatience and prepare for each session carefully in the time they spend in optional maths class. In the first videoconferenced session, the children had tended to be shy and passive but this had changed quickly. Already by the second session, they were much better accustomed to the format and keen to contribute different solutions to the problems being posed, Ms Ivashkova said. Maths is a good vehicle for cross-border collaboration, said World ORTs Chief Programme Officer, Vladimir Dribinskiy. It is a universal language; these kinds of intellectual games are all about creative thinking, Mr Dribinskiy said. And, thanks to videoconferencing technology, we can bring ORT students together from cities thousands of kilometres apart and really create a family feeling.