Math Matters: Impressive numbers add up at Wheeler

April 21, 2020

Among the leading academic programs at Wheeler, mathematics has as its aim to give students the tools and problem-solving skills to face the challenges of a variety of problems, and to work both individually and collectively in finding solutions.

These skills are needed now more than ever.

We want each student to build confidence in their ability to study mathematics today and in the future, to see connections among the concepts covered in our curriculum, and to reach their potential through understanding and appreciation of the subject. Recently, Wheeler students earned the #1 rank in Rhode Island in both the Middle and Upper School competitions sponsored by the National Math League.  You can read the news here.  But what factors apply to achieve this type of success?

Strong students. Strong teachers.

Among the ways this understanding and appreciation for mathematics are encouraged is through enrichment opportunities open to all students at the school (we share a link below for one that anyone can access at home.) Student interest and faculty innovation and support are also key.

“Success breeds success,” says veteran faculty member Tom Wharton. “It really comes down to the fact that Wheeler has a history of having strong math programs that attract many of the top “mathletes” around the state. We also have an incredible ‘farm’ program where Wheeler students are exposed to math enrichment in our lower school and then things really ramp up in middle school.”

Wheeler’s Mathematics Department faculty are also award-winning, having earned the prestigious Miller Fellowship in 2018, honoring those areas of the school which support interdisciplinary planning and ongoing innovation. Aerie Enrichment Founder Mark Harris says of the department, “Strong faculty create strong programs which attract strong students.”  When awarding the Miller Fellowships, the Department was recognized for curriculum development projects that centered on creating new digital platforms for learning mathematics including new topics in data analysis, video-based instructional content, and online learning methods, tools, and materials — all before distance learning became necessary.

Examples of Math Competitions Open To Students

Outside of the classroom, Wheeler offers students opportunities to compete in a great number of math competitions. The Math League competition (Wheeler competes in the New England NEML division) is open to students throughout the school, not just those on a particular Math Team. Over the past several years Wheeler students have competed in the following:

Math Olympiads (LS)
NEML (LS4-MS)
Purple Comet
AMC-8 (MS)
AMC-10 (MS)
Mathcounts – State (MS)
Mathcounts – National (MS)

NEML (US)
RIML (US)
NEAML (US)
ARML (US)
Who wants to be a Mathematician? – Rhode Island (US)
Who wants to be a Mathematician? – National (US)

Mandelbrot (US)
Purple Comet (US)
Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tournament (US)
PUMaC (US)
Moody’s Mega Math Challenge (US)
AMC-10 (US)
AMC-12  (US)
AIME (US)
USAMO (US)

Online Math Enrichment for Your Child

For students at home looking for math enrichment, Wharton recommends going to http://artofproblemsolving.com/ (AoPS). “Besides offering online enrichment classes, they have an amazing program called Alcumus which is a free adaptive online learning system,” says Wharton. “It offers students customized learning experience, adjusting to student performance to deliver appropriate problems and lessons. They also have a competition wiki and forums that are the best in the business.”

Wheeler Upper School Curriculum Guide

Want to know more about the Wheeler Mathematics curriculum in Upper School?  Find our 20-21 Course Guide here.

Girl elementary student at whiteboard drawing a triangle
Lower School math builds skills for students to progress through the curriculum.

Related Reading