Once a week, a group of students congregate in a classroom to further their knowledge in math, not for class, but for fun.

For students who love a challenge, G. Stanley Hall Elementary offers Math Olympiads, a club open to fourth through fifth graders that focuses on math problem solving.

The club, which meets every Wednesday after school for 45 minutes, gives students a chance to see math in a new way, and Erica Acamo, club sponsor and third grade teacher, said she is excited to be a part of the learning.

“It’s a fun thing for kids who like math and can think differently about how to solve challenging problems,” Acamo said. “It’s cool to see how many people actually do like math.”

This year, the club has 15 members and each week they tackle a new type of math problem or puzzle, all of which require critical thinking and for members to work in groups.

Because the club is made up of three grade levels, older students are able to help younger ones, Acamo said.

“Their range of knowledge of math is in different places so it’s fun to see how the sixth graders show the fifth or fourth graders something they might not know already,” she said.

Sixth grader Maliyah Herrera said she joined the club because she enjoys the subject.

“I really enjoy math. Everything has a right and wrong answer and everything makes sense and I’m good at it,” Herrera said.

One of her favorite parts of being in the club is being able to work with her friends, she said.

“I like that I’m able to work with other people who like math because in normal math class, some people don’t feel the same way about math that I do,” Herrera said. “It’s nice working with people who actually enjoy it.”

Throughout her time in the Math Olympiads, Herrera said she’s learned how to get creative with her problem solving skills.

“Sometimes you need to think outside of the box to get the correct answer,” she said.

Acamo said sponsoring the club has taught her a lot about problem solving as well.

“Growing up, math was not my favorite thing in the world, so it’s kind of cool to see what students think and how they answer problems, which might be a different way than I do,” she said. “I usually end up learning more from them than they do from me.”

In addition to sharpening their math skills, Acamo said she hopes they also learn to work as a team.

“I hope they have fun and learn new ways to solve problems they might not know how to and just learn the importance of working together, too,” she said.

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