Canadian Provinces, Cities Launch First Ever Mathematical Sciences Awareness Week, November 15-21


Canadian Provinces, Cities Launch First Ever

Mathematical Sciences Awareness Week, November 15-21

Mathematics considered the language of Canada’s knowledge economy

British Columbia, November 12, 2009 – It’s time to calculate the importance of mathematics in our daily lives. That’s the message of several of the country’s provinces and cities in declaring the first ever Mathematical Sciences Awareness Week, November 15-21.

Participants of Mathematical Sciences Awareness Week include the provinces of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador, and the cities of Vancouver, Regina, Saskatoon, and Halifax.

“Math is so much more than a school subject, it’s all around us,” said Dr. Arvind Gupta, Professor at the University of British Columbia. “From financial markets and technology to health care and sports scores, there’s no escaping the influence of math in today’s world.”

Gupta – who is also Scientific Director of MITACS, a Vancouver-based national research network that connects university-based math researchers with organizations to solve real-world challenges – explained that the goal of Mathematical Sciences Awareness Week is to reinforce the message that mathematical sciences plays an essential role in our society and get Canadians more interested in sharpening their skills.

“The world is demanding more and more quantitative skills from people, yet the majority of the population is at a grade six level in math and kids are turning away from mathematical sciences in larger numbers than ever before, which is cause for concern,” Gupta said. “In fact, a recent public opinion survey revealed that parents are more likely to talk to their kids about drugs than math. This is something we’d like to change.”

So, what can Canadians do to give a boost to a topic that – upon mere mention – makes 20 per cent of the population’s palms sweat? Here are a few suggestions from MITACS regarding how individuals can participate in Mathematical Sciences Awareness Week:

  • Review the basics of math by using online programs such as, or Mathplay For those kids who like online gaming, why not give a visit. Sites like these offer lessons, games, puzzles and information for parents and children to enjoy together.
  • Strengthen problem-solving skills through games and puzzles. The card game Set, for example, is a good way for all ages to increase visual perception and pattern-finding abilities. Students in grade one can play and beat adults, even mathematicians.
  • Any activity that exercises logic will improve a person’s math ability. Logic and basic arithmetic puzzles such as Sudoku, Kakuro and Kenken are ideal.
  • Electronic games such as Minesweeper or Lemmings might not look like math at first glance, but they sharpen one’s cognitive abilities. Regular and repeated problem-solving builds the neural pathways that flow between the areas of the brain that are involved with doing math.
  • Read books to get more comfortable with math at any level. Try Martin Gardner’s collections of math puzzles, The Colossal Book of Mathematics, or The Colossal Book of Short Puzzles and Problems. Phillip Heafford’s Great Book of Math Puzzles is recommended for kids aged nine to 12.

“Improving math skills not only benefits individuals on a personal level, but it also plays a central role in building Canada’s future knowledge economy,” said Gupta, whose MITACS organization celebrates its 10th anniversary this month.

For more information about Mathematical Sciences Awareness Week, visit



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