Math Fair


In late May 2015, one of my Grade 9 students had the idea to take some of our favourite classroom tasks to elementary school students. Two weeks later, the class was working alongside approximately 70 elementary school students (and future high school colleagues) at mathematical stations in the school’s small gym. The response from the school community was so positive, that the fair became a staple in the building. The fair would grow exponentially in size over the next two years, with the 2017 edition involving just under 470 elementary students, 50 high school students, and over 10 staff volunteers. 

The fair has a two-fold purpose. First, it is designed to build connectedness and facilitate transitions (both social and academic) between the secondary school and its feeder elementary schools. Second, it focuses on student agency by giving students the task of planning, setting-up, and leading the fair. 

Structure of the Day

The fair consists of a series of stations, each housing a mathematical task. Groups of elementary school students are linked to a pair of high school leaders, and together they rotate through the stations. The rotation is built in such a way that groups are always encountering different groups at different stations in order to maximize the opportunity for connections. Each station has a teacher-leader, enough materials to accommodate 5-6 groups at one time, and lasts approximately 20-25 minutes (depending on time restraints).

Our previous fairs have had 4-5 stations, but the numbers were so high in 2016 and 2017 that we invited the elementary students in two waves and ran identical stations twice, once in the AM and once in the PM. A snack break splits the fair at the half-way point. During this time, students eat a snack while thinking together on some type of mathematical experiment (like a watermelon bomb or an estimation challenge). 

Media Coverage for Math Fair

Station Descriptions  

We have always attempted to design stations around a variety of curricular topics: number, patterns & relations, geometry, logical reasoning, etc. Below is a list of stations that have appeared at a math fair in the past. Each includes a link to an information sheet where the materials, key questions, and possible extensions are detailed.

(It should be noted that these instructions represent a starting point for possibility. Instances of student and teacher inspiration should not be ignored; many of the valuable ideas at Math Fair occur in the moment)

**This page was created with the help of Heidi Neufeld and Ilona Vashchyshyn, amazing teachers who have volunteered as station leaders at Math Fairs.**