Pierre de Fermat

The Fermat Group is for students in 5th and 6th grades seeking first exposure to exploratory problem-solving mathematics. There are no mathematical prerequisites. In most cases the instructor and topic will change from week to week, presenting different topics and different points of view. There is no textbook, and though students may be given take-home materials, such are not homework per se.

Students must be in at least the 5th grade to participate in SDMC; it is not sufficient that a younger student have an advanced mathematical level. The reasons for this age cutoff have more to do with maturity and social integration than with mathematical ability. Our experience has shown that children younger than 5th grade are more likely to have difficulties adapting to large class sizes and non-scripted environments. Though the Fermat class is always staffed with a handful of parent volunteers to provide adequate adult supervision, we find that younger students tend to require a degree of supervision that perturbs the character of the class.

A small handful of parent volunteers are needed each week to help supervise the Fermat class. Much of the time this assistance consists of simply observing the class, monitoring for any disciplinary coaching that may be need. However, adults are sometimes needed to officiate during activites, and to supervise especially during the periods of filing to and from class, and during the mid-morning break, when students may be outside the classroom. Noise can sometimes be a concern. Besides supervision, an important responsability of parent volunteers is to police the classroom at the end of each class session, to be sure the facilities are as clean and orderly as at the outset.

The "Fermat Coordinator" is a particular parent volunteer who assists SDMC in these matters.