MIT Professor Glenn Ellison has spent more than a decade coaching math teams and developing math enrichment materials for his daughters and their classmates. His middle school Hard Math textbook and workbook contain the materials he used while coaching many successful Mathcounts teams. They are a labor of love sold at bargain prices with the hope that they will help students around the world develop a deep understanding of middle school math and enjoy every minute of it.
The topics align with modern middle school curricula: fractions, decimals, percents, prime factorization, plane and spatial geometry, probability, statistics, combinatorics, algebra, modular arithmetic, etc. But Hard Math challenges students to develop a deeper understanding: it asks much harder questions than standard texts and teaches the material and problem solving strategies students need to attack them. For example, rather than asking students to write 2/5 as a decimal, it might ask students to use the fact that 99999 = 9 × 41 × 271 to find the tenth digit in the decimal expansion for 1/271. (It might ask this, but never actually does.)
The personal and somewhat irreverent prose in the IMLEM Plus edition of Hard Math for Middle School speaks directly to students participating in both the Intermediate Math League of Eastern Massachusetts and Mathcounts(r). The organization of the book is also designed to serve IMLEM students. But middle school math is middle school math and the book should be great for students preparing for other math contests or just looking for general enrichment or hard problems to do.
Hard Math for Middle School: Workbook, sold separately, contains over 100 worksheets. The worksheets have problems at different difficulty levels that students can use to solidify their understanding of the material in each section of the textbook. It would be crazy to buy this text and not also get a copy of the workbook unless your child is using this book in school or in an enrichment program that is already providing plenty of practice problems. Solutions to many of the problems in the workbook are currently available for free on Prof. Ellison's website.
Mathcounts(r) is a registered trademark of the Mathcounts Foundation, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this book.