Los Angeles Math Circle

Frequently Asked Questions

 

General information about Los Angeles Math Circle (LAMC)

What is LAMC?

LAMC is a math enrichment program for students from the greater Los Angeles area.  Following the rich mathematical traditions of the Eastern European math circles, we focus on developing logical thinking, getting students excited about learning, and building a strong foundation for future studies.

Who is the target audience of the LAMC?

LAMC provides students with a serious interest in mathematics to go much deeper and wider in their studies than the traditional school curriculum.  Our students are typically among the strongest in their classroom or entire school.  We have classes for all grade levels, K-12.

When and where are the LAMC sessions held?

LAMC classes take place on Sundays, in the Math Sciences building at UCLA.

Is there a fee for participation in LAMC?

LAMC is free to all students admitted into the program. The program is funded by the National Science Foundation and generous private donors. In addition, we are kindly encouraging donations from families of participating students. The suggested amount of donation is $200 per student per quarter. However, we appreciate donations in any amounts, no matter how small or large.  Please note that making a donation does not play a role in our enrollment decisions. Thus, we recommend waiting to see if your child is admitted before making a donation.

To support the program, please visit our Support us page.

What kind of sessions should I expect at LAMC?

Topics studied at LAMC go far beyond school curriculum.  By attending LAMC regularly for a number of years you will get a well-rounded overview of topics from all fields of mathematics, from algebra and number theory to geometry and topology, including the modern day applications to cryptography, information theory and artificial intelligence. Whenever you join the LAMC, you should not expect to understand everything right away.

You will understand more and more as you get more experience.

 

Structure of LAMC Programs

What is the structure of LAMC?

LAMC consists of two independent programs: the Academic Year Program and the Summer Program.



What is the difference between the Academic Year Program and Summer Program?

We created the summer program in 2014 to give more students an opportunity to participate in the LAMC.

Summer program is completely independent from the academic year program.

Applications for summer session open up every May. Summer session is offered to students in grades 1-8 (depending on availability of instructors).  All applicants are invited to take an assessment at the end of May/early June. Assessment does not require the knowledge of concepts outside of school curriculum.  Instead, we are looking for mastery of the school curriculum and creativity in problem solving.

Top students from the summer program might be offered a spot in the academic year program (if there is any availability).

 

Breakdown of Academic Year Programs 




How can I determine what level of the LAMC my child should apply for?

The application form has the list of LAMC levels with the grades they correspond to. Please note that this might change slightly from year to year. Please always apply for the suggested grade level. If a student is admitted into the program, they will always start with the age-appropriate group. In rare cases, we move students one level up and sometimes even two levels up. This works best when it is initiated by the groups instructors

Please do not apply for a level that corresponds to a grade level higher than your child’s grade level at school.

My child is doing math 2-3 years ahead of the regular school curriculum. Should I apply for a higher level of LAMC?

No.  The mathematical concepts studied at LAMC go well beyond the standard school curriculum. Most of our students are 1-3 years ahead of the standard school curriculum. This in itself is not necessarily an indicator of how well they will be doing at LAMC. Please apply for the age-appropriate level. Your child will be moved up if we determine through classroom observations that this is in the best interest of the student.

My child was in the Early Elementary group last year. Will he be in the Junior circle next year?

Students in good standing are moved together as a group. Each of our levels is a two-year program.  Thus, students usually spend 2 years in Early Elementary, 2 years in Junior Circle, 2 years in the Beginners group, 2 years in the Advanced group, and then move on to High School I.

 

Admissions to the Academic Year Program

How can my child be admitted into the Academic year program of LAMC


Kindergarten program
 (“Breaking Numbers into Parts”)

Our Kindergarten program, Breaking Numbers into Parts (BNP), follows our book with the same title “Breaking Numbers into Parts.” The kindergarten program is independent of the program for older grades (that is, it does not directly feed into the older grades’ program). Students admitted into the BNP are expected to participate for an entire academic year. Once they complete the BNP program, they are welcome to apply for the next available Early Elementary group (program for grades 1-2). Please note that this might mean waiting for a year, if a new Early Elementary group does not start in the year after students finished the BNP program.

Availability of the BNP program depends on the availability of instructor.

Please also note that successfully completing the BNP program does not automatically qualify a student for enrollment into the Early Elementary group.

Students entering grades 1-2:

Every two years (in the odd years, i.e., 2015, 2017, 2019, …)  we start a new group Early Elementary for students entering grades 1-2 in the fall of that year. All applicants need to take an assessment to be considered for enrollment. To be successful on the assessment, students need to be able to read fluently (with excellent reading comprehension); while exemplifying mastery of age-appropriate mathematics and creativity in problem solving. Once students are admitted into Early Elementary group, they progress through the levels of the LAMC as a group. Thus, we very rarely have openings for older students.

Students entering grades 3-8:

There are very few openings for students in these grade levels.  If there are any openings, the top priority is given to

·      National winners (places 1-20) of Math Kangaroo;

·      Students achieving honor roll on AMC8 (American Math Competition for 8th graders);

·      Top students from the summer program.

 

Submitting a detailed application is required in order to be considered.

LAMC admits a new class of 1st-2nd grades (2 groups) every two years (in the odd numbered years only, i.e., 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021).  To be admitted into this group, students take an entrance assessment. Once admitted into the program, students in good standing move to the next year’s program as a group.

High school students:

We usually have a small number of openings in the high school level(s) of the LAMC. If you are a new student, please submit a detailed application. Applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. Top priority is given to students who are able to demonstrate a sustained deep interest in mathematics. 

Enrollment for Continuing Students

My child was enrolled into LAMC last school year. Do I have to apply again for the following year?

Yes. You need to apply every quarter. This is the only way for us to know that you are interested in continuing with the program. You can be brief when answering questions on the application form. Once you submit the application, continuing students in good standing will be enrolled automatically.

How do I know what level I should apply for next year?

The application form gives the list of LAMC groups and the corresponding grade levels.

 

Academic Year Program Calendar

How many sessions are there in the academic year?

LAMC follows the UCLA Academic Calendar.

The school year is divided into 3 sessions: Fall, Winter and Spring. Each session starts after the first full week of classes at UCLA and ends after the last week of instruction.

Each session has 9 meetings, for a total of 27 meetings in each academic year.  

 

Here are the LAMC Academic Year Program Dates for the next several years:



Are there any holidays when LAMC does not meet?

Yes. Each session (Fall, Winter and Spring), we skip one Sunday due to a long weekend:

Fall: skip Sunday of the Thanksgiving weekend

Winter: skip Sunday of the President’s Day weekend

Spring: skip Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend

We meet on all other Sundays that fall into our academic year calendar.

 

Summer Program/ Session

Who is eligible to apply for the LAMC’s summer program?

The summer program/session is open to the public to give more students an opportunity to study at the LAMC. Only new students are eligible to apply. Students enrolled into the Academic year program the year that precedes the summer session are not eligible to apply for the summer session.

What grade levels are available in the summer program?

The summer program covers elementary and middle school only. Availability of specific grade levels depends on the availability of instructors.

What are the dates for the summer session?

The summer program starts in mid-late June and runs through mid-August. Specific dates are announced in early June of each year.

 

Admissions for the Summer Program

How do I apply for the summer session?

To apply for the summer session, please complete the following steps:

Create an account on the LAMC’s web page
Apply for the summer session (marked 19X, 20X, etc.  where 19, 20, etc.,  represents the year and X represents the summer session). Each year, applications open in May.
Bring your child to an entrance assessment (approximately 1 hr long). Entrance assessment is scheduled in late May-early June.
Students who qualify after taking the assessment are admitted into the program.

If my child is admitted into the summer session, will he/she be able to continue in the Academic Year programs?

Summer program is completely independent of the Academic Year Program. Students admitted into the summer session do not automatically continue in the Academic year program. Academic year program for grades 3-12 is usually full with students continuing from the previous year. If there are any openings, they are  given to National Winners of Math Kangaroo  (places 1-20) or Honor Roll students on  American Math Competitions and/or top students from the summer program.

1st-2nd graders can apply to a newly formed group each  odd year (2015, 2017, 2019, etc.)

 

Curriculum

My child is not enrolled in the LAMC. Can we still use the LAMC curriculum?

Yes. You can use all of our handouts that are available on the web page. 

Handouts from past academic years are available in the LAMC’s archive.

Handouts from the current academic year are available in the LAMC’s calendar.

In the summer session, we often reuse handouts from past years. Thus, we do usually do not post the summer session handouts online.

 

Is the LAMC curriculum published?

Currently, only the curriculum for our Kindergarten program, Breaking Numbers into Parts, is published and available on here on Amazon:

Several local schools and satellite math circles are using this curriculum.

 

Resources

What books and textbooks would you recommend to use?

Here is the list of recommended books and textbooks. The indicated grade level is very approximate. Often, older children really love books targeting younger audiences

Grades 1-3:

1. “Sir Cumference”, a series of educational books about math, by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan. There are 10 books in the series, covering concepts from logic, arithmetic, algebra and geometry in a story-telling format. Most of the characters of the books are named after math terms, such as Sir Cumference (circumference) and Lady Di of Ameter (diameter). This helps students remember important concepts while enjoying entertaining stories.

2. “What’s your angle, Pythagoras?”  (a math adventure) by Julie Ellis.


Grades 3-5 

" The Number Devil” by Hans Magnus Enzensberger. Discover and explore a variety of topics, from prime numbers to Pascal’s triangle, presented to Robert, a young boy who does not like math, by the Number Devil.  

Are there any recommended online classes?

1. Institute for Math and Computer Science (IMACS)
2. Art of Problem Solving (AoPS)
3. Khan Academy

 

Math Competitions

What competitions are offered at the LAMC?

LAMC is a proctoring site for the following competitions:

AMC8 (American Math Competition for grades 8 and below. The AMC 8 is a 25-question, 40-minute, multiple-choice examination in middle school mathematics designed to promote the development of problem-solving skills. The AMC 8 provides an opportunity for middle school students to develop positive attitudes towards analytical thinking and mathematics that can assist in future careers. Students apply classroom skills to unique problem-solving challenges in a low-stress and friendly environment.

AMC8 is appropriate for LAMC students in grades 7 and 8. In rare cases, exceptionally strong 5th and 6th graders may benefit from participation.

AMC takes place on a Tuesday in November. We proctor the students after school hours. To take AMC8 at LAMC, you will need to register on our web page. Space is limited due to classrooms and proctors availability. Priority is given to current LAMC students in good standing.

Please visit the AMC8’s web page to learn more about the competition. 

Art of Problem Solving has an archive of AMC8 questions and solutions available as a resource:


AMC10 and AMC12 (American Math Competition for grades 10 and below, and for grades 12 and below)

The AMC 10 and AMC 12 are both 25-question, 75-minute, multiple-choice examinations in high school mathematics designed to promote the development and enhancement of problem-solving skills.

AMC10 is appropriate for LAMC students in grades 9 and 10, while AMC12 is appropriate for LAMC students in grades 11 and 12.  Sometimes, younger students can benefit from participation. The best way to find out if the competition is the right fit for you is to solve problems from past contests. You are also encouraged to talk to the lead instructor from your group for a recommendation.

The AMC 10/12 provides an opportunity for high school students to develop positive attitudes towards analytical thinking and mathematics that can assist in future careers. The AMC 10/12 is the first in a series of competitions that eventually lead all the way to the International Mathematical Olympiad (see Invitational Competitions).

AMC10/12 are offered by the Mathematics Association of America (MAA) on two dates in February, date A and date B. In most years, LAMC proctors the competition on one date only, with the date selected taking into account our students’ preferences, as well as availability of rooms and proctors.

Many high schools also offer proctoring of AMC10/12. Please check with your school to see if you can take the contest there.

Since date A and date B competitions have different problems, you can officially take AMC10/12 on date A in one location and on date B at another (or even the same) location.

 

Art of Problem Solving has an archive of AMC10 and AMC12 questions and solutions available as a resource:

 
AIME (American Invitational Math Exam) and USAMO (USA Math Olympiad)

 

AIME and USAMO are the 2nd and the 3rd round of the national Olympiad. Students need to perform well on AMC10/AMC12 in order to qualify for AIME. Strong performance on AIME is necessary to qualify for USAMO.

Please note that you are not eligible to participate in AIME and USAMO if you did not qualify through high performance on AMC10/AMC12.

We proctor AIME and USAMO for all students who qualify by taking AMC10/12 at LAMC.

 

Please see the AIME’s and USAMO’s web pages for details.

 
Math Kangaroo is nationwide contest for grades 1-12, offered on the 3rd Thursday of March each year. The format is 24 questions for 75 minutes in grades 1-4, and 30 questions for 75 minutes in grades 5-12.

The contest is very popular, and advanced registration is required. We have space for approximately 90 students whom we can proctor at LAMC. As soon as the contest is announced, we recommend registering as soon as possible (i.e., the same day), as the space quickly fills up.

 

Every year, more and more proctoring sites for Math Kangaroo open up throughout Los Angeles. Please check Math Kangaroo’s web page to see if there is a MK proctoring site in your area.

 

For more information, please visit the Math Kangaroo’s web page at:

 
The Bay Area Mathematical Olympiad (BAMO) consists of two exams, each taken by hundreds of students, with 5 proof-type math problems to be solved in 4 hours. One exam, BAMO8, is for students in 8th grade and under, and the other, BAMO12, is for students in 12th grade and under. They are held on the last Tuesday of every February. LAMC serves as a proctoring site for BAMO.

 

BAMO is a unique contest, similar in structure to USAMO, yet not requiring any prequalification. Solving even one of the problems on BAMO is a big achievement.

 

To get an idea of the style and level of the competition, please go to the competition’s archive.

 

Are LAMC students required to participate in any of the competitions?

While LAMC serves as a proctoring site for several competitions, LAMC students are not required to participate in any of these. Taking part in a competition is a very individual decision, especially for younger students. For some students preparing for math contest provides motivation and gives structure to their studies. Others might find the stress and time pressure in a competition to be too limiting. We support and guide our students in making the choice, which is right for them.

 

Can a student who is not enrolled into LAMC participate in any of the competitions that are proctored at LAMC?

Math Kangaroo: Due to space limitations and the popularity of competition, we do not have the capacity to proctor students not currently enrolled into LAMC for Math Kangaroo.

AMC8, AMC10, AMC12:  Occasionally, we have a handful of spots which we can offer to students not currently enrolled into LAMC.  Please check with the LAMC’s director, Dr. Olga Radko, by writing at radko@math.ucla.edu at least 2 weeks before the competition you are interested in.

AIME, USAMO: if we have any LAMC students taking AIME/USAMO at UCLA, we can usually proctor 1-2 additional students who qualified at another location.

Bay Area Math Olympiad:  Depending on the how many LAMC students participate in BAMO, we can offer seats to a few more students.

 

Supporting the Los Angeles Math Circle (LAMC)

Is there a fee for attending LAMC?

LAMC is a free program.  While we ask parents to support us by making a tax-deductible donation, this is not mandatory and is not a factor in enrollment decisions. The suggested amount is $200 per students per quarter. However, we value and appreciated donations in any amount and aim for 100% of families participating in the donation drive instead of focusing on the amount of each individual donation. We suggest waiting until your child is admitted into the program before making a donation.

 

How is AMC funded?

LAMC is currently supported by a Research and Training Grant  awarded by the National Science Foundation, and by parents donations. In the past, seed funded was provided by Boeing, Ratheon, MSRI, and Squid&Squash foundation.

 

How can I donate to the program?

An online donation can be made by following the link… and selecting “10 Year Anniversary Fund”. Please select the “In Honor of “ field and add your child’s name there. This will help us to link your donation with your account on LAMC’s web page.

 

You can also donate by check made payable to UCLA Foundation. The check can be given to the lead instructor of your child’s group or to LAMC’s director, Dr. Olga Radko. You can also send the checks by mail to:


Olga Radko

UCLA Mathematics Department

520 Portola Plaza, MS 6363

Los Angeles, CA 90095-1555

 

Classroom Policies

Are parents allowed to attend LAMC sessions?

We do not allow parents in the classrooms on a regular basis. If you are interested in observing a specific level or a specific class, please write to Dr. Olga Radko, director of the LAMC, at radko@math.ucla.edu

 

Can my child bring a snack to the class?

We do not allow food of any kind in our 1 hour classes (Breaking Numbers into Parts, Early Elementary and Junior circles). A water bottle is fine.

Groups for older students that meet for 2 hours take a small break in the middle of the meeting. Students can have a snack during the break, but not inside of the classroom.

 

How can my child remain in  good standing and have a spot reserved for the next LAMC session?

To be in good standing, students need to meet the following criteria:

 

1). Attend LAMC sessions regularly. If your child misses 2 or more classes in a 9-weeks session, he/she might lose priority enrollment for the next session.

2). Be an active participant in LAMC sessions, i.e., demonstrate sustained interested in the subject matter studied in class; complete assigned homework; make progress in their learning.

3). Have no disciplinary problems or other classroom-related issues.

How can I find out how my child is doing in the program?

Lead instructor of your child’s group has the most up-to-date information on your child’s progress in the program. You can briefly talk to the lead instructor after the class, when you pick up your child from an LAMC session. You can also write to the lead instructor by email. Different groups may have different methods of tracking progress. It is best to communicate with the lead instructor to find out how your child is doing.

How can my child be moved up to the next level?

LAMC students usually move up together as a group.  In rare cases, when the group instructors observe that the student cannot be adequately challenged within the level he/she is enrolled in, we consider moving the student in question to the next level. This usually works best when initiated by the group’s instructors. The final decision about moving up a level is made by the LAMC’s director, Dr. Olga Radko.