Math Circles

The Math Circles Program was initiated by teachers and mathematicians through the support of the Pacific Institute of Mathematics Sciences (PIMS) at UBC. They saw that students were entering university inadequately prepared for the big jump between high school and university math, and set out to change this.

Math Circles started in UBC in the 2000/2001 school year with only two classes in one campus. It has since grown to six campuses in Metro Vancouver, serving 700 students. The Math Circles Program is effectively raising the level of mathematical knowledge and achievement among elementary and high school students, and with this boosting their curiosity, confidence, and enjoyment of the subject.

What is Math Circles?

Math Circles is an after school enrichment math program for Grade 5-12 students. It is designed to promote mathematical thinking, communication, and problem-solving abilities in an interactive classroom setting.

In Math Circles, children develop key competencies, such as the ability to solve word problems, reason well, think logically, communicate mathematically, employ modeling and visualization, and make connections among various mathematical concepts. Emphasis is on understanding concepts, developing critical thinking skills, and solving complex word problems as opposed to memorizing. Developing these key competencies prepares students for success in university and beyond!

“It’s not just about finding the answer, it’s also about developing the necessary reasoning skills to be able to justify the way in which the answer was found. It is about challenging yourself, being curious, asking the right questions, and thinking like a mathematician would!“ - Dr. Natasa Sirotic

Math Circles Program Details

Math Circles classes are planned to be offered both in-person and online for the 2021/22 school year. Math Circles online is taught in a "flipped classroom" format where students watch an on-demand video or engage with a learning path prior to attending class. Class time is used to solidify concepts from the learning paths through solving problems and answering student's questions.

Classes: In one year, there are 17 classes. In-person classes are 90 minutes each while online classes are 75 minutes (Class times schedule).

Eligibility: Our regular program is suitable for students in Grades 5 - 12. Grade 4 students may join if they score well enough on our assessment test.

Assessment Test: Upon registering, there is an assessment test for new students which determines their level placement. We separate the tests into grade 6-8, and grade 9 -12 (grade 5 students are NOT required to take the assessment test; instead they are automatically placed into the beginner level, Alpha, unless they wish to challenge the Grade 6 - 8 test).

Homework and Online Tutorials: There is homework between classes, which is checked for completion by the teacher (but not graded). Homework is expected to take 2-3 hours to complete. We offer live online homework tutorials between each class, in which students ask the online instructor questions about the homework and get live support! 

Teachers: All of our teachers are math specialists and have degrees in Mathematics or a closely related subject. Expert instruction with guidance and a focus on student thinking are the hallmarks of our teaching methods. 

Math Circles teaching methods draw on international experience and research-based best practices, supporting students to learn and love mathematics, building their confidence and competence in the subject along the way

Curriculum: The founders, Dr. Natasa Sirotic and Dr. Klaus Hoechsmann, who have PhDs in Math and Math Education, have built the curriculum using the top math education sources around the world.