After posting, Mathletes Has Begun, I received a few questions about the program and wanted to pass on a little more information about the Math Olympiad and how I manage our Mathletes group.
For those of you interested in the Math Olympiad, it is a national program that is open to homeschoolers, and the enrollment deadline for the 2009-2010 school year has been extended to Oct.30. You cannot enroll individually, but must be sponsored by your local hsa or other homeschool group. I suggest calling the the folks at MOEMS (Math Olympiad for Elementary and Middle School) if you have any questions concerning your eligibility. I have called them several times with numerous questions, and they have always been helpful. I have not had to send them any official documentation of my local hsa's sponsorship. I did present the idea to my hsa board for approval before including our association information on the MOEMS registration form.
The Olympiad releases two five-question math exams each month, November through March. One test is for elementary students, 4th-6th; the other is for middle school, 6th-8th. 6th graders have the option of taking either exam. I have mine take the elementary exam. Some teams have all students, 4th-8th, take the middle school exam. There are a number of options. Their information pages explain in detail how the program works.
The cost per team (US, Canada, and Mexico) is $89 if you choose to receive the tests and report your scores online. If you wish to receive the tests/report via snail mail, the cost is $99 per team. If you want to receive an elementary test and a middle school test, you must register as two teams and pay two fees. I divide the membership fees by the number of students on the team and charge per student. With 7-12 members on the team each year, the cost has been around $15 per student.
The program is available to students outside the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. See the MOEMS site for more information.
The five exam problems are always challenging word problems, but I have seen a lot of growth in Orville, who is participating for the second year. The parents of the children on last year's team all gave me positive feedback on the program, and all but one signed up again this year. Each participant is guaranteed to receive a certificate of participation, and each team receives a trophy for the highest scoring member. There are other awards that can be earned as well. I also award my team members points for effort and points for correct answers. When a student earns 100 points, I present him this medal. This has motivated my team to try more problems and report to me on time each week.
The Olympiad only requires the once-per-month meeting for the purpose of taking the exams. However, most school-sponsored teams meet at least once per week for practices. That is why I added in the Problem of the Week component. By emailing the problems to my team members and allowing them to email their completed work to me, everyone involved is saved a lot of time. So, in a way, I do a virtual mathletes (hee, hee to my friend who asked this). Membership on the team I sponsor is limited to those who are members of my local hsa, though. Sorry.
The Math Forum is a paid membership site and well worth the $25 for a teacher-level membership. This level of membership gives me the rights to distribute problems to the team members who are not my children. If you are interested in incorporating a problem of the week into your school schedule, the individual membership costs $15 per year. There are other membership offers that include services like mentoring and feedback. They always offer multiple explanations of how to solve each problem and other helpful features like a grading rubric. It is a great site.
Math Counts also offers problems of the week for free. Answer keys are provided for their problems as well. However, I like The Math Forum more and find their features for teachers very helpful. The Math Counts Foundation also offers a national competition for middle schoolers, available in all 50 states. Since this is the first year that I have had middle schoolers on my team, we have not competed in Math Counts yet, but I have heard great things about it.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to leave them as a comment.