Problem of the week
The OLICO Youth Problem of the Week is voluntary academic enrichment offered to the OLICO Youth learners. The questions are designed to improve learners’ problem solving and reasoning abilities. This is based on the premise that in order to be good at mathematics, one needs to develop all four of the following:
- Fluency (the ability to calculate easily and accurately)
- Understanding (knowing what you are doing and being able to make connections between different ideas in mathematics)
- Problem solving and reasoning (the ability to solve problems using mathematics, explain your thinking, and justify your answers)
- Attitude (belief in oneself, perseverance, and a positive attitude towards mathematics)
Many of the problems require the learners to interpret the written description, grapple with the question until they understand it, and then give an explanation of their answer. Explaining their answers builds two key elements of mathematical success: mathematical reasoning ability and academic language proficiency. Learners are encouraged to discuss and work on the problem in groups, and this groupwork provides opportunity for discussion which further develops learners’ mathematical understanding and academic language proficiency.
Although the problems are meant to challenge learners to think creatively, it is also important that they are accessible to learners. For this reason the problems included here range in terms of the level of challenge they will present to learners. We have arranged the problems according to levels based on roughly where the content fits in the curriculum.
Level 1: Includes no content further than Grade 7
Level 2: Includes Grade 8 and 9 content
Level 3: Includes Grade 10 – 12 content
However this does not mean that all level 1 problems are easy or that all level 3 problems are hard and so you might find some of the level 1 questions provide nice challenges for Grade 9s or 10s.