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9 Math-A-Thon Do’s and Don’ts

Mathathon Success

Math-A-Thons are school fundraisers where students answer as many math problems as they can over a 1- or 2-week period and solicit donations from friends and family to support their school. Math-A-Thons are our top rated school fundraising idea because they provide educational value to the students, are easy to manage for the administrators, and incur minimal costs. However, there are some important steps to take and pitfalls to avoid to ensure that they are as successful as possible.

School Math-A-Thon Fundraiser

New to Math-A-Thons? Check out our
Complete Guide To Math-A-Thon Fundraising

DO Consider Summer Math-A-Thons

Summer Math-A-Thons provide a few unique benefits:

  • Few conflicting events
  • Great review of the past year’s material
  • Early start to annual fundraising efforts
  • Reacclimates students to school environment

DON’T Discount Fall, Winter, and Spring

Math-A-Thons can be held year round and still be successful and beneficial for students.

  • Fall events tend to have high engagement and can be a great introduction to the new school year’s curriculum or a review of the previous year’s curriculum
  • Winter events are all about school spirit. We recommend offering collective participation rewards, which can help rally students for a common cause.
  • Spring events provide a fun way to review the year’s material and prepare students for end-of-year exams.

DO Encourage Teacher Involvement

Teachers’ involvement helps to reinforce the importance of the educational aspects of the events. They can encourage participation and provide extra academic support for students that need it. In ForOurSchool’s Math-A-Thon platform, teachers can also record worksheets for students that prefer offline participation as well as track performance of each student in their class.

DON’T Require Student Participation

Math-A-Thons are not homework. They are fun and interactive opportunities for students to build a positive association with math. But to do that, participation has to be voluntary. When a student is told that they must solve math games, it can cause stress and diminish their excitement for the event. Instead, encourage participation through positive incentives and by highlighting the benefits of the fundraiser.

DO Celebrate Math Accomplishments

At ForOurSchool.org, we help many schools host their Math-A-Thons. One school we worked with incentivized participation by offering a pizza party to any class that collectively solved 3,000 math problems. The school told us that one of their students, who typically struggles with math, really enjoyed participating in the event and solved nearly 1,000 problems on their own. When the teacher announced that the class won the pizza party largely due to this student’s effort, the student beamed with pride and planned to solve even more problems at home.

This type of public recognition and pride in a student’s math ability is difficult to replicate with homework or tests. Take the opportunity to congratulate and celebrate students who excel.

DON’T Discourage Using Hints or Help

Allow students to seek help and use hints if they get stuck. The goal is to support learning and understanding, not just to test their current knowledge. Encouraging collaboration and problem-solving can make the event more educational and enjoyable.

DO Reward Meeting Class or Grade Math Goals

The reward system that the previously mentioned school used to incentivize participation was ideal. They set a collective goal for each class, encouraging all students to participate to their ability. This fosters teamwork and a sense of shared achievement. Rewards can help to celebrate these accomplishments and be something as simple as extra recess time.

If you have a school donation goal, publicize how that money will be used. Set a stretch goal where excess funds go towards a fun event for the students, which still incentivizes donations without focusing on individual contributions.

DON’T Reward Meeting Donation Goals

Avoid tying individual rewards to the amount of money raised. This can create inequities among students and shift the focus away from the educational aspect of the event. Instead, keep the emphasis on learning and personal achievement.

DO Align Math Levels with Student Abilities

Ensure that the math problems are appropriate for each student’s skill level. Tailoring the difficulty of the questions to match students’ abilities keeps them engaged and prevents frustration. This approach allows each student to experience success and build their confidence and math skills.

If you are ready to get started with your own event, check out our guide to running a successful Math-A-Thon. Alternatively, Read-A-Thons can also be profitable, educational, and fun school fundraisers. If you are interested in trying that, we’ve provided a list of Read-A-Thons DOs and DON’Ts to help you.

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