News Archive - First in Math Brings Unique Experience To Romanian School

First in Math Brings Unique Experience To Romania

Originally published in 2007

DROBETA TURNU-SEVERIN, ROMANIA–A relatively small Romanian town along the shore of the Danube river is home to the first East European school to offer its students access to the First in Math® Online Program.

Gheorghe Titeica High/Middle School teacher, Irina Zaman, began using First in Math with 15 students from one of her seventh-grade classes in 2007. Most Romanian classrooms do not have computers, so students played at home or made visits to the school's computer lab during breaks or after school. Within a few days, Zaman noticed students discussing game strategy and following each other's scores—students with lower scores were even being ‘tutored' by higher-scoring students. Soon, an amused Zaman was answering student questions such as ‘Can we go to the lab to play FIM during other teachers' classes, if they're boring?'

"FIM's user-friendly and entertaining interface makes my students feel they are ‘playing' when working on the site, which cannot be said about most of their homework," says Zaman.

Irina Zaman is interviewed by a Romanian TV news crew,
as her team uses First In Math in the computer lab.

"Completing FIM activities requires basic math knowledge as well as imagination, creativity, and attention to detail," according to Zaman. "I'm overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response from my students and their parents, and am pleasantly surprised to see how quickly my students got into the Top 100. My students have never been more excited about math, and I am extremely grateful for that!"

When word got out that Titeica students were competing online in a math contest and that they could compare their scores to those of American students, one of the local TV stations came to interview Zaman and her team. Local newspapers followed suit, printing weekly updates of Titeica students' ranking in FIM Top 100. Zaman hopes that all this publicity will bring more support for an idea she already believes—that math can be exciting and fascinating.

The initial 15 students received access through a grant offered by Suntex through the Center for Mathematics, Science, and Computer Education at Rutgers University in New Jersey. However, the students and parents interested in gaining access to First in Math were so keen to use the program that they offered to pay for access themselves. And so, starting in January 2008, a new group of Romanian students will combine math with play, and find themselves immersed in the First in Math universe!

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