Vol. 17, No. 31May 14, 1998

Bored kids? Keep them busy with 'mail-order math'

Parents nationwide can keep their 4th through 8th graders busy this summer pondering such brain teasers as how best to swamp a bedroom or split the profits from a sale of Beanie Babies-thanks to "Solve It," the University's "mail-order math" program.

Beginning in June, UD will start mailing mathematical riddles to the homes of participating children throughout the United States, whose responses will be graded and returned with comments. By the 15th of each month-in June, July and August-children will receive packets of information. Nearly 600 U.S. students put their mathematics skills to the test last year.

"The program provides a way for students to sharpen their problem-solving strategies, learn about new concepts and review ideas covered in their school's mathematics curriculum," says Solve It creator William B. Moody, professor and interim chairperson of the Department of Educational Development.

"Family involvement is encouraged, and problems fit well with normal summer activities. The program provides enrichment opportunities for students who enjoy working on challenging mathematical problems."

Past problems, for instance, have asked students to calculate how many gallons of water it would take to fill their rooms, to compare how long it might take to fill a swimming pool with two different hoses, to poll people about their knowledge of the summer Olympics and to describe a fair way to split up the profits obtained from a project involving the sale of Beanie Babies.

Each Solve It participant may choose problems from two difficulty levels. A specific UD staff member follows each student's progress throughout the summer. At the end of the program, students completing all sets of problems receive a summary of their progress and a report on how well they performed, compared to other participants at the same grade level. Each child also receives a certificate of participation and a Solve It pin.

Cost for the program is $50. For $60 children can receive both levels of problems; however, only one may be returned for grading. For more information, call the Solve It Office at UD at 831-1658 or visit the Solve It web site at www.udel.edu/educ /solveit.htm

Registrations will be accepted through May 31. A set of sample problems and guidelines for participating will be mailed after registration is received.

-Beth Thomas