We have a system in our school where about five times a year teachers issue Effort Marks to students (this also goes out to their parents).

As part of that system we give students a mark from 1 – 4 which reflects their academic effort. If a student is getting an A in class tests then this is supposed to merit a 1, but personally I think the bar should be set a little higher. Lots of people get A’s; if I give them all 1’s then there isn’t any mark left for those who something above and beyond the normal call of duty. Some students may not be happy with this, and some have asked me what they need to do to get that elusive 1. So here’s my answer: Enter a competition. It can be Science, Maths, or anything else with a Science/Maths theme. Maths Week is just over which can only mean that Science Week is lurking somewhere around the corner.

Now everybody knows that I think ScienceWeek is a depressing indictment on our profession. Why should we need a week-long series of activities to convince students and the public that Science is interesting? Why is every week not ScienceWeek in our schools and classrooms? What does that say about us as teachers, and in particular about the rediculous syllabus we are asked to implement? Bring on the JC reform, that’s what I say. Not to mention that anything the teacher unions give out about must be good for students.

But I digress . . .

Enter a competition. Check out some of the following sites:

http://www.mathsweek.ie/

http://www.scienceweek.ie/

http://www.scifest.ie/

http://www.btyoungscientist.ie/

http://www.pumped.ie/ (thanks to frogblog.ie for highlighting this one)

Or have a go at this one

**Maths Eyes and Geogebra Competitions **

Fun for all ages and Digital Cameras to be won in a fantastic competitions!

For Maths Week 2012 in collaboration with the Institute of Technology Tallaght and the Maths Eyes initiative we are offering an new exciting activity for all ages. Entrants explore the mathematics of real life using a photograph taken in their local area and the free mathematical software GeoGebra. See more at http://www.haveyougotmathseyes.com/explore-how-to-use-geogebra/

The categories for the competitions are 7 years or under, 11 years or under ,14 years or under,18 years or under , Adult Education (Open to all those currently participating in an adult education course), Family/Community Group (collaboration between family members or collaboration between members of a community group)

The closing date for entries is this Friday 27^{th} October. The basic idea is that students take a photo of something in their locality, import it into GeoGebra and highlight some aspect of the underlying mathematics ( see eg above). There are screencasts on the website for the competition showing how to import photos etc as well as practice photos and prepared Geogebra files with photos already inserted, so even if people don’t want to enter the competition it might be useful as a learning activity to point the students at etc.