The Virtual Math Club is for students who are interested in developing their mathematical problem solving skills using problems similar to those found on math contests such as the AMC 8, AMC 10, MATHCOUNTS, or the middle school math olympiads. I’ll post a problem set each week, and then come back later in the week and post the answers and video solutions. I also have plans to post lessons on key topics that are not typically covered in the standard mathematics curriculum such as combinatorics, probability, and number theory.
The problems here are different from normal school math exercises. In school, whenever you learn a new math skill, the teacher will assign exercises to practice that new skill. With exercises, the approach is pretty straight forward and you just need to practice applying the new skill quickly and accurately. It’s similar to lifting weights to strengthen your muscles. With problems, the approach is not straight forward. It requires flexibility and creativity to be able to try different things, and look at a problem from different angles, until your find a solution. Problems are more like climbing a mountain. To climb a mountain, you need strong muscles, but the best path to the top isn’t always obvious, and you need to have a variety of skills and be flexible with those skills in order to respond to obstacles along the way. Sometimes you might even find your first approach isn’t going to work, and you have to back up and take a different approach. That’s the biggest difference between the math kids typically learn in school, and the math required for math contests. Math contests require problem solving.
But even if you are not interested in participating in math contests, you will benefit from sharpening your problem-solving skills. You’ll probably even enjoy it. These problems are fun, more like puzzles. The process of solving a problem can be frustrating, but solving a hard problem is extremely satisfying and leaves you craving more. And the more problems you solve, the better problem solver you’ll become. You’ll develop the persistence, patience, and perseverance it takes to be a good problem solver.