Math Blazers

FAQ

  1. Who are you?
    We are Samanthi and Chan Fonseka - a wife-and-husband team who were instrumental in introducing Math Olympiads to Dublin schools in 2013. Chan volunteered his time at Fallon Middle School for the past 4 years running a Math Olympiads program there, while Samanthi ran the Math Blazers coaching program in five of the elementary schools.
  2. Do you offer coaching?
    No, for the 2017/18 Math Olympiad season we are not offering coaching.
  3. Didn't you coach in previous years?
    Yes, we did: for the 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17 school years.
  4. So why aren't you coaching this year?
    We have some personal commitments this school year that do not allow us to dedicate the amount of time required to deliver a sufficiently high-quality coaching program.
  5. Will you resume coaching next year?
    We will review our bandwidth next year and decide. We are keen to resume coaching if our personal commitments change.
  6. Why offer only Olympiads administration?
    We do have the time as well as the logistical and administrative experience to do this. We wanted to provide an option for Dublin students who have been coached by us and taken Olympiads in past years to be able to continue to at least take the Olympiads. As part of this change we have opened up this opportunity for three more Dublin schools (Murray, Frederiksen and Wells) in addition to the six schools that have had Math Olympiad teams in the past few years.
  7. Why should my child take the Olympiads through you?
    We take care of registration with MOEMS; placing each student in a team with other students from the same school; administering the five Olympiad contests in a professional, rigorous and fair manner; grading and submitting test results; communicating individual scores; and distributing certificates and awards to each student. Math Blazers has built a reputation for professionalism and high quality, whether it be in Olympiad administration, coaching, or customer service.
  8. When and where will the 5 Olympiad contests be held?
    On the following five Sundays: Nov 19, Dec 17, Jan 21, Feb 18, Mar 11. Division E will be at 9am; Division M at 10am. The location will be in East Dublin and announced later.
  9. Which division should I pick for my child?
    Division E is intended for grades 4-6 and Division M for grades 6-8. 3rd graders do not normally take the Olympiads. If you have an advanced 3rd grader who would like to try Division E then you may enroll him or her. 5th and 6th graders have the option of taking either Division E or Division M (not both). However, unless they are well beyond their grade level in mathematical concepts and problem solving, we recommend they stick with Division E.
  10. What is the Olympiad contest format?
    This is described on the MOEMS website.
  11. How can I prepare my child for these contests?
    To prepare for the contests, we recommend one of the following books:
    1. Math Olympiad Contest Problems Volume 1
    2. Math Olympiad Contest Problems Volume 2
    3. Math Olympiad Contest Problems Volume 3


    All of them have dozens of actual papers from previous Division E and M Olympiads and are an excellent way to guided practice and/or self-study. Volume 3 is what we used in Fallon Math Olympiads as well as Math Blazers over the last three years. Your child could work on these past papers at their own pace, using the hints as well as detailed solutions in the back of the books to reinforce learning or assist if they get stuck. We recommend doing at least a few of these past papers under actual test conditions (ie, timed) so that they get a good idea of what the actual Olympiads will be like.

    You can alternatively have them work based on problem difficulty level. Each individual problem has the %correct indicated in both volumes 2 and 3 so you can pick and choose the level you want them to work on. %correct indicates what percent of kids taking the problem in an actual Olympiad got it correct. Problems in the book range from as difficult as 1% to as easy as 80% or more.

    Finally, problems are categorized by topic as well as solving strategy in the beginning of the book, so if you have a particular topic or strategy you want to focus on you can pick problems that way.

    In our experience, one of these books is all that is needed at this stage; if a child has attempted and investigated all the problems contained therein they will be in pretty good shape. Two or more of these books would be more than enough; there is also a fourth book: Creative Problem Solving in School Mathematics which goes more in-depth into techniques and strategies and is an excellent companion to the other three. You can get any 3 or all 4 of these books at a discount at the MOEMS store.
  12. Are there any free resources?
    Yes. You may find the following MOEMS materials useful:
    1. What every young mathlete should know
    2. Long list of coaching tips and ideas
    3. Two sample papers
    4. Problem of the month
  13. Will I get my child's Olympiad back?
    Yes. Your child can pick up their (graded) paper immediately after the following month's Olympiad. Their final Olympiad paper may be picked up when they receive their certificates in May. Unfortunately we are unable to schedule any other time(s) to view and/or pick up papers.
  14. How and when will I receive my child's score?
    Approximately 1-2 weeks following each Olympiad date, we will email your child's score - along with their team and global averages for comparison - to the email address you specified when registering.
  15. Will you go over the answers?
    No. Your child's graded paper will include the correct answers for informational purposes, but we will not be discussing the correct method(s) of solving. That is considered a part of coaching, which we would normally do but as mentioned above is not part of our program this year.
  16. What is your refund policy?
    We offer a full refund until two weeks before the first Olympiad Contest. That contest is scheduled for Sunday, November 19 - so the last day for refunds will be Sunday, November 5.