An ambitious, worldwide internet project is under way today, as students around the world try to set a new record by answering more than 10 million correct math questions online by the end of the day. The project, which commemorates World Math Day (also known as World Pi Day), not only seeks to get kids interested in math–it also brings them together with peers from other countries.
Beginning at midnight in whichever region of the world they live in, students from some 2,000 schools in 97 countries–from Albania to Zimbabwe–began logging into VmathLive, an online math program made by Voyager Expanded Learning, to compete against other students from around the globe.
“Students will be going online and answering as many mental math problems as they can during the day,” says Lu Anne Bourland, product manager for VmathLive. “We will be accumulating those points, and as we go all around the world, we’ll be able to see the students answering those questions and going for the record.”
When they log in during the Math Day event, students will see the World Math Day Hall of Fame, showing them the top 10 performing students from around the world up to that point. Once they enter the field of play, the online program will search out up to four students in different regions to compete against. While answering the questions, students will be able to see how each of their opponents is doing. Bourland says each correct answer logged in during these sessions will be counted toward the record.
Voyager officials expect that by the end of the day more than a quarter of a million students will have logged on and competed with other students. The event itself is open to both existing VmathLive school users and non-users who are able to register on the World Math Day site and is available for students in grades K-12.
“What we’re seeing is all types of implementations going on with this event,” says Bourland. “Some schools have set aside time for students to go into the computer lab so that all of the school’s students within a specific class are online at the same time.”
One of the schools that will be participating is Broadmoor Elementary School in Miami. At Broadmoor, all 225 students from grades three, four, and five are planning to be on their computers from 9 to 10 a.m., doing what principal Linda Klein describes as “bombarding the market.”
“I’m very competitive and want my children to be the best in everything,” says Klein. “So we took the logistics and figured out what hour of the day we can have all 225 [third, fourth, and fifth-grade] Broadmoor students participating in the competition at one time.”
Some schools competing in the project might participate for just one day, but others see this as only a small part of a larger, everyday competition using the program. “All of my students are already on Vmath at home or at school,” says Klein. “So to them, this is just the cat’s meow.”
Klein sees the event as part of a broader lesson. “We’re going to be pulling down our world maps so we can see just how many children we’re competing against and from where they are,” she says.
The competitive aspect to the project, and the chance to contribute to a larger, record-setting effort, are real motivators for students, said Lisa Bickel, editor-in-chief of math at Voyager.
“They get excited going online and seeing there are students from another country that they’re playing against,” she said. “The opportunity, though, is really to bring math into the limelight…[and] for students to work together and be successful with math in a situation where sometimes they might not be.”
Voyager Expanded Learning