Molding mathematical minds
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte
The importance of mathematics has never been greater than now and for the foreseeable future; crucial for a wide array of analytical, technological, scientific, and economic applications. Through our schooling years, we learn all types of number subjects; from the easiest to the hardest, and everything in between.
Starting with simple arithmetic at the grade school level, the equations start growing when high school confronts us with problems on algebra, geometry, trigonometry and applied mathematics. College days soon fill up with postulates and theorems made more intense with statistics, calculus, and integration; not to mention the quadratic equation.
We need numbers to know the exact milligram of vitamins or medication to take. You need to measure precisely the ingredients in a dish you’re cooking. You need to know exact yardage for textile needed in sewing apparel. Or the exact number of cement and tiles to finish a floor area. And the list goes on and on, ad infinitum.
Mathematics is around us, it is present in all the things we do. Even in browsing the Net, as full-proof algorithms is what make us go through the information highway without a glitch!
Six years ago, Sharp Calculators through Collins International Trading Corporation launched the SHARP Minds Program to help uplift the standard of education in the Philippines particularly in teaching Math subjects.
“In 2008, Sharp Calculators initiated the Sharp Minds training program to improve math education all over the country. Right before classes start in June, high school teachers from both private and public schools undergo aptitude enhancement sessions with the Mathematics Training Guild. Teachers are taught new ways of teaching numbers, which include technology as part of the yearly symposia,” shared Collins Int’l Trading Corp. VP Julie Lim.
In the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report for 2013-2014, the Philippines has been ranked 96th out of 142 countries in perceived quality of Math and Science education. The survey questioned business executives around the world to rate the quality of education, among other things, in their respective countries.
It is a considerable improvement from being ranked 115th (WEF 2011-1012), but still far behind our other Asian counterparts such Indonesia (35th), Japan (34th), Malaysia (27th), Taiwan (11th) Hong Kong (10th). Singapore continues to be on top of the list.
The search for Ten Outstanding Young Mathematicians (TOYM) seeks to promote the development of Science culture among young Filipinos by recognizing their accomplishment in the field of mathematics and inspire more students to be better at numbers. While the search uses the same acronym as that of the Ten Outstanding Young Men awards, it should not be confused with the latter.
“With TOYM Awards, Sharp Calculators aims to foster the academic excellence of the Filipino youth in Math as we recognize their extraordinary numbers skills to motivate them further in becoming the future think-tank of this country. We also hope to raise the status of mathematics in our society; thereby stimulating the interest of the students, the academe and the general public to the significance of Math in the development of the country,” said Collins Int’l Trading Corp.’s assistant VP Lucero Ong.
“Notable Filipino mathematicians such as Raymundo Favila (Theoretical Physics), Casimiro del Rosario (Soft X-ray research), Gregorio Y. Zara, Amador Muriel (Quantum Theory of Turbulence), Tito A. Mijares (Multi-variety Hypothesis) and Jose A. Marasigan (Philippine Mathematical Olympiad) have all been recognized for their contributions to diverse fields of physics, astronomy, biophysics and biotechnology. Who knows maybe the next great mathematician would be among our TOYM awardees,” Ong added.
Partnering with two of the biggest Mathematics organizations in the country, the Mathematics Trainers Guild, Philippines (MTG) and Mathematics Teachers Association of the Philippines (MTAP), the SHARP Minds Program sponsored Mathematics activities and programs in member schools with the goal of recognizing the sharpest math minds whilst transforming the pedagogy of mathematics teaching in the Philippines.
This year, Sharp Calculators pushes its advocacy further by partnering with more educational institutions like the Department of Education - National Capital Region (DepEd-NCR), and Department of Science and Technology - Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI), together with the Mathematics Trainers’ Guild Philippines (MTG), Mathematical Society of the Philippines (MSP), and Philippine Council of Mathematics Educators, Inc. (MathTEd) as it launches the very first search for the Ten Outstanding Young Mathematicians (TOYM) from, initially, the National Capital Region.
“We want to foster academic excellence through motivation, like giving prestigious awards as the TOYM to students. It is our way of recognizing those who are truly gifted. The search is open to all schools and the top three math students from each participating institution will undergo two screenings to arrive at the twenty semi-finalists. The 20 will then undergo a panel interview to determine the ten who will go on to the finals. At this point, the mechanics to the final screening will be determined by the judges themselves. We are starting with ten from NCR. Hopefully, this cascades to the national level later on,” concluded VP Lim.
The search is open to all public and private high school students in the National Capital Region who have completed at least two years of high school. They must be Filipino citizens, either naturalized or natural-born. The nominee must be among the Top 3 students in math as certified by the school principal and the award will be based primarily on the nominee’s performance on national and/or international competitions.
A recommendation from the school principal or Mathematics head coupled with supporting documents will be the basis of elimination. For students who are chosen to the top 20, each involvement on activities included in the recommendation of the principal/math head or other recognized authority will be reviewed and assessed by judges/co-presenters. The said recommendations will be the basis of the judges’ questions for the panel interview. The Deliberation/ Final interview of finalist will be conducted by representatives from Department of Education NCR, DOST-SEI, MTG Philippines, MSP, and MathTed.
The TOYM awardees will be the first batch of Sharp Calculators’ Youth Ambassadors that will inspire and encourage the Filipino youth to strive and achieve academic excellence through school tours and mathematics symposiums. They will be receiving plaque of excellence, cash prizes and gifts from Sharp Calculators and other corporate sponsors.
The deadline for nominations will be on January 5, 2015, while the awarding ceremonies will be scheduled in February 2015.
Nomination kits are readily available at selected National Book Store Branches all over Metro Manila and can be downloaded through www.sharpminds.ph. For more information, simply contact the Sharp Calculators secretariat through tel. nos. 681-6161 or 646-2867 and look for Ms. Mary Rose Rocha or Ms. Clara Camille Ocampo.