by Maureen Ryan Thorpe
Is your mathematics student already showing a competitive spark at 8, 9, 10 years old? A math competition might be just the outlet they need to put their talents on display. Competitions are not just for middle and high schoolers—a good number of math challenges exist for the elementary-school crowd. These matches are a good way for this age group to begin building skills like collaboration, confidence and critical thinking. Below, we have compiled a list of competitions available to students in grades 3-5.
1. Perennial Math National Championship – https://perennialmath.com/
Perennial Math hosts online competitions, live on-site tournaments and virtual tournaments for students in grades 3-12. Rules vary by each tournament, so check out the link above to learn more. There are two seasons for the online tournaments (Nov–Feb and Jan–Apr). The in-person tournaments take place throughout the year. All winners of on-site tournaments are invited to the National Championship, typically held in May. Team membership is available for $100.
2. Art of Problem Solving (AoPS) – https://artofproblemsolving.com/online
AoPS creates interactive educational opportunities for avid students of mathematics, including lots of activity in the competition arena. Check out the link above for a detailed compilation of contests—upcoming and past competitions, as well as results and practice problems.
3. Mathematical Olympiads for Elementary and Middle School – https://moems.org/
The MOEMS International Math Olympiad offers monthly math competitions for elementary school students in teams of up to 35. Schools, organizations and homeschool networks can register for these events and complete competitions in person or online. Participants in the Math Olympiad can win trophies and medals and connect with like-minded students around the globe.
4. North South Foundation Math Bee – http://northsouth.org/public/home
Organized by the North South Foundation (NSF), NSF Math Bee is a national competition for children of the Indian American community. Launched in 2004, its goal is to better prepare children to take standardized tests such as PLUS, PSAT, SAT I, SAT II, and ACT. The competition is open to U.S. students from grades 1 to 8.
5. Continental Mathematics League – https://www.cmleague.com/product-category/cml/
CML hosts contests for students in grades 2 through 12. CML helps students improve their problem-solving skills. Schools can enter their students in the meets and contests as part of larger teams. Students in grades 2 and 3 can enter three meets in a year. Students will be participating with other students on the same grade level from schools all over the U.S.
6. Noetic Learning Math Contest – https://noetic-learning.com/mathcontest/index.jsp
Students have the chance to sharpen their problem-solving skills in a 20-question, 45-minute math extravaganza. The Noetic Learning Math Contest is offered both online and on site in schools. Participants compete for medals, honor roll recognition and bragging rights.
7. Math Kangaroo – https://mathkangaroo.org/mks/
Mathematical Kangaroo is an international mathematical competition with over 50 participating countries. It is the largest competition for school students in the world, with over 5 million participants from 47 countries. There are 24 questions for students up to 4th grade, and 30 questions for students of the remaining grades.
8. RSM Foundation – https://www.rsmfoundation.org/programs
The RSM Foundation’s International Math Contest (IMC) is a 30-minute online challenge based on leading math curricula from across the world. Participation in the challenge is free. You can opt in to receive a performance report, which provides your student’s score, placement, percentile, knowledge strengths, gaps as well as insight into their grasp of mathematical concepts mastered by their international peers.
9. The Math League – https://www.mathleague.org/esevents.php
Math League is a math competition for elementary school students in the U.S, Canada and around the globe. It offers students the opportunity to participate in an academically oriented activity and gain recognition for mathematical achievements. For fourth and fifth grade students, registrations are open until January 31, 2023 with the competition slated to take place in April.
10. K-12 Game-a-thon –
The national K-12 Game-a-thon encourages students from pre-kindergarten to grade 12 to think critically and creatively to design a game that, in turn, solves a mathematical problem. One or more students, along with a teacher or parent as a coordinator, can invent card games, board games, apps or outdoor games.
Do you want more resources on similar topics? NSTEM’s vast resources database provides thousands of STEM resources that are searchable by category, school level and state. This comprehensive library includes info on enrichment activities, curricula, internships, scholarships and more. Check out a free sampling here. Or get an NSTEM membership today to unlock the complete list.
Grades 3-5 continue the STEM education journey, where students are interested in the natural world, in how things work, responding to stories told by teachers that give purpose and meaning to STEM disciplines, molding them into thinkers, problem solvers and creators. The National STEM Honor Society sees grades 3-5 as a critical point in the NSTEM journey. To start your grade 3-5 chapter of the National STEM Honor Society, click here.