For Maths Teachers

Easy instructions how to organize Maths Battles and Maths Circles in your school.

Background and vision

WeSolveProblems is an educational non-profit organization, founded by three enthusiasts (you can read about us at the About page).

Our aim is to organize maths competitions (Maths battles) among UK schools, and provide weekly training (Maths Circles) for the competitions. The training is done in so-called maths circles, which are run on weekly basis. Maths competitions are organized every half term.

Our primary aim is to encourage creative mathematical thinking and to develop a skill in communicating mathematical ideas. One can consider the maths battles as an analogue of debating competitions but within the mathematical context.

Maths battles create natural environment, which we use to teach children how to prove mathematical statements.

Our dream ambition is to establish a Maths Battle League.


What are Maths Battles and Maths Circles?

A maths battle is a competition between two opposing teams. Children solve a given set of problems with their team first, and subsequently present their solutions in turns at the whiteboard to the scrutiny of the other team. You can find the rules for maths battles here.

To perform better in “battles”, children are asked to attend regular training session, namely “maths circles”. This is done similar to sport competitions between schools, in which children are asked to attend training sessions in order to be able to represent their school.

While the “circles” form the backbone of our program, we rely on “battles” to generate interest and “buzz” around the curriculum.


What is the curriculum?

Maths cirlces explore a number of topics from the problem-solving art, such as elementary mathematical logic, induction, pigeonhole principle, probability, combinatorics etc. At the beginning of each session a particular mathematical concept is introduced by the instructor through examples.

You can find some of our problems here.

We train for general problem-solving skills as well as the ability to present one’s results clearly and coherently. The topics do not rely on each other in general, and it is possible for children to resume their participation after missing several sessions.


How are maths circles conducted?

The maths circles are run through one-to-one conversations with instructors. After a concept is introduced at the beginning of a session, the children are asked to try to solve a given set of problems. When a child thinks they mastered a problem, they raise a hand and an instructor comes by to talk. The primary aim of maths circles is to teach children how to articulate mathematical ideas. For a class of 20 children 4-5 instructors are typically present. The instructors are typically master and PhD students provided by us, but may be also sixth formers lead by a teacher from your school.


What is the target age of children for maths battles?

We aim to work with secondary school children from the age of 11. At the moment we divide children according to their year group: Year 7-8, and Year 9-10. We found that the younger children are the most enthusiastic, and we are working hard to preserve their interest in maths when they grow older.


Structure

For each location (usually a school), we aim to conduct a weekly maths circle for the interested children, run by a team from our side (usually, a mix of postgraduate and PhD-level students), or, alternatively, by a team from your school (may be a group of sixth formers led by a teacher).

Roughly each half term, we organize a maths battle, either between two teams from a single location, or between two teams representing different schools.

We support financially both the circles (paying instructors for the time they spend teaching and preparing for the sessions), and the battles (prizes and admin costs).


What do we provide for you to start a maths circle in your school?

  • Weekly problem sets
  • Instructors (usually a mix of postgraduate students from nearby universities, or, alternatively, we can train instructors from your school)
  • A grant for your school to cover expenses related to maths circles and maths battles
  • A package with a step-by-step guide to how organize a maths circle and a maths battle. The package includes publicly unknown problems, online registration system, certificate templates, branding, rules, prize ideas, detailed maths battle schedule, balloons, stickers, t-shirts and many more

We recommend combining maths circles with maths battles, as maths battles improve children’s motivation to attend maths circles.