So I came across a math competition hosted by BYU that is open for Utah middle and high school students. After thumbing through their archive of past exams, I tried my hand at producing a handful of problems that I think would be appropriate for the Senior Exam. The questions aren’t too terribly difficult — think AMC 12-type of questions — but ones that I think students would have fun tackling.
Anyways, I submitted the problems directly to the test writers for their consideration for inclusion — hopefully I hear back soon about whether or not they make the cut. If they decide to pass, I’ll post here and would love to get some feedback. I dabbled a little bit in test writing before moving to Utah and it is something I certainly want to get back to doing.
Since this website will mostly be concerned with discussing some of my personal projects and hobbies, I thought it’d be appropriate for my first post to share one of my first major projects I ever put together: a manual for UIL / TMSCA Number Sense competitions
Number Sense Manual | Bryant Heath | 2007
I wrote it about ten years ago mostly to give me practice with all the nuances of writing in LaTeX and I haven’t really edited it since. I was also frustrated at the time that there were no free resources for prospective students interested in the Texas-based competition, so I made it available for all to download it. After a brief google search, it seems like nothing has changed — most material is either behind a paywall or is incredibly difficult to locate!
One of things I want to work on in the future is to create a sizable pool of Number Sense test questions where I can then formulate freely downloadable practice tests for students to work on. I am also thinking about starting a series of simple, two-minute videos highlighting individual mental math tricks to better showoff the concepts.
The benefits of mental math extend further than just a niche high-school level competition. For example, the ability to quickly and accurately calculate ensures that you have more time answering questions on standardized tests where difficult-to-use on-screen calculators are allowed (GRE, GMAT, etc…). In addition, better approximation methods — which is at the crux of mental math — allows you to save so much time and gives you a great feel of whether a particular approach is to problem or project is feasible.