While parents, caregivers and volunteers sipped hot coffee on an overcast Sunday morning, more than seventy young students from grades 1 through 12 began competing in the 2019 Canadian Math Kangaroo Contest. Humber College’s Lakeshore campus was one of more than fifty designated testing sites in Canada.  

This year, approximately 6,500 students in Canada took part in the competition that originated in France more than 25 years ago. The contest is designed to encourage students to view math as fun and enjoyable, and inspire further interest in mathematics. No calculators are to be used during the testing period and students answer questions that grow increasingly difficult, losing points for incorrect answers.

“The competition is a wonderful display of equal gender participation, too. That evenly split ratio is always a great sight to see in the field of mathematics and science,” says professor Mona Bayani-Keyvani, lead organizer of this year’s event.

Bayani-Keyvani explains the competition is friendly and every student receives a certificate of participation. “We see familiar faces every year, and it’s so nice to see their confidence grow,” she said. Ermira Cami, a long-time volunteer, agrees. “Seeing the students’ determination to solve difficult problems is amazing,” Cami said.

Seven-year old Lilia Ramdas participated in this year’s contest, after placing 18th overall in Canada in her first competition last year. “I feel really good about the test,” she said. “Last year when I won, I kind of got the bragging rights with my sisters,” she declared proudly. Both her older sisters participate in the contest, and she’s sure her younger brother will too, as soon as he’s old enough.

Humber began hosting the competition in 2015 in partnership with the University of Toronto, but the 2019 competition marked the first year Humber hosted the event independently. During the testing period, Humber’s Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre guides offered a 45-minute historical tour of the Lakeshore campus’ underground tunnels for those accompanying the young mathletes.

Bayani-Keyvani hopes to grow the number of student and volunteer participation in the 2020 Math Kangaroo Competition, especially within the Humber community. “When you see bright-eyed kids so excited and happy to be part of the competition, it’s incredible,” she said. “They’re genuinely happy to be here. We are delighted to be able to host these budding young mathematicians here at Humber.”

To learn more about the competition, registration or volunteer opportunities, visit kangaroo.math.ca.