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Question Corner and Discussion Area

Starting a Math Club

From Roy Thistle on September 4, 1996:
For a couple years now, I have been trying to start a math club at our school. . . no luck. Perhaps a virtual club is the way to go? Some people might be thinking Usenet, but it is dying away because of the web. So there it is. . . lonely math guy. . . Does anyone have thoughts on how to stimulate some interest at my school or on how to start a virtual club?

By the way, S.O.L.E. is an alternative school in Toronto with an excellent and dedicated staff who for the most part, unfortunately, are not interested in math. We have a great book club though. . . sigh. . . somehow it isn't enough.


From Philip Spencer, University of Toronto on September 20, 1996:

An excellent question, and certainly if there's anything we can do here on the Mathematics Network to provide interest or help you start a virtual club, we'd be happy to do it.

Does anybody have any good thoughts or suggestions on how to stimulate interest in this kind of a situation?

From Alvin Mok, Richmond Hill High School on September 29, 1997:

I know exactly how you feel. I am trying to start a math club in my school. I even have my Math Department head helping me! But no luck. There is one thing you could do: try starting a math HELP club, that could attract a lot of people.

From Blanche Reyna on October 4, 1997:

I once taught at a junior high, about 4 years ago. I was successful at starting a math club and a Spanish club (at two schools). First of all, "math club" usually translates into "nerd" club; unfortunate, but true. So what I did was open both clubs to all students regardless of their GPA. Next I enticed students with goodies (e.g., picnics, movies). Immediately I had about 20 students. Afterwards, everyone wanted to join.

Later after the students realize that a "math club" is not a "nerd" club, we start playing chess, checkers, and slowly integrated math activities (e.g., district contests). The Spanish Club also started out the same way, I left the second year, but my principal informed me that the club was up and running 4 years later.

During the same year that I formed the Spanish Club, I approached the students with ideas of helping elders in the community, taking trips to San Antonio--multicultural activities--Mexican Cooking. It has been a great success.

The key to starting a club: entice students with something (you know, like the commercials on TV, like businesses do to get you into the door); remember teaching is a business, and students are our clients. Do not bombard students with academics at the beginning; do it slowly. It sure did work for me, and for both the math and Spanish Club. I hope I have been of help.

From Joseph, Hyde Park High School on January 24, 1998: Hi. I am the president of my school's math club but I really don't know what to do first. I really want this to be fun for the other students but I don't know where to begin.

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