Short History of Math Kangaroo in USA
have heard of the annual mathematical competition
Math Kangaroo in USA. You probably know that it takes
place every year on the third Thursday in March, in several
places throughout the US, and that students all from
grades 1 to 12 are invited participate. If you or your child
has participated, you also know that all who take part receive a
T-shirt, diploma and special memento, and the top winners from
each level also look forward to special prizes. You most likely
support Math Kangaroo's vision of encouraging students to learn
mathematics by presenting them with problems that are
interesting and by rewarding their efforts. But perhaps you
have at some point wondered: Why is it called “Math Kangaroo”?
And where did this whole idea come from?
Its history stretches back several decades. In
Peter O’Halloran, an Australian mathematician and teacher,
began a popular mathematical competition in his country. The
test was open to anyone who wanted to participate, and included
engaging and thought-provoking questions which stemmed from
mathematical areas of knowledge including algebra, geometry, and
this idea was taken up
Paris, France. The
competition began to be called “Kangaroo” because of its
Australian origin. Very quickly, it spread throughout Europe,
and presently over 6 million students throughout the world take part. In September 2012 a nice article was published in EMS Newsletter by Prof. Gregor Dolinar, the President of Kangourou Sans Frontiéres, where one coud read about history, present and future of the competition worldwide.
of promoting greater commitment to the study of mathematics
through the use of interesting problems and positive
reinforcement also reached the United States. In 1998, Maria
Omelanczuk, a trained mathematician and educator, began with a Math Kangaroo competition at the
in Chicago. She continued to promote the competition in
collaboration with the school until 2003. At that time, yearly
participation in the contest increased to the point that Mrs.
Omelanczuk, together with Izabela Szpiech and Joanna Lasek,
formed a not-for-profit charity organization, Math Kangaroo in
USA, NFP, specifically to deal with organizing and promoting the
competition in the US. Since 2003, the competition in the
US has been handled by this charity organization. The
organization also helps students prepare for the competition by
making available problems from the previous years.
Participation continues to grow. For recent number please see
our Results pages.
Kangaroo is an international competition. Not only has it
spread from country to country, but the various countries in
which the competition takes place work together each year on
choosing the problems for the contest. It also takes place at
the same time throughout the world. However, the results are
not compared between various countries, and prizes are awarded
by the national organizers of the competition.
Kangaroo in USA is always looking forward to continuing
growth by adding new locations and new participants. We invite
you to be part of the Math Kangaroo story.