Math Mania Reaches First Nations Communities in Manitoba

  • Date: 06/27/2017

Math Mania Reaches First Nations Communities in Manitoba


Over the course of two weeks at the end of May and into June, PIMS Education Coordinator, Darja Barr expanded Math Mania, one of our educational outreach programs, to First Nations communities and schools in Manitoba.


On May 30, 2017: Opaskwayak Cree Nation, The Pas MB
On June 2, 2017: Sagkeeng First Nation Reserve, Pine Falls MB
On June 13, 2017: Lake St. Martin School, Winnipeg MB



The Math Mania Legacy

Math Mania began in British Columbia as a PIMS outreach event in which volunteers and Mathematics faculty members from PIMS University sites travelled to local and remote elementary schools to engage large groups of students in interactive mathematical games. The goal was to foster excitement and interest by helping children see mathematics in a new light.

Math Mania has since become one of our tentpole education initiatives and, though it requires a great deal of time and work on the part of our dedicated volunteers and faculty participants, it is one of our most rewarding programs. We designed it to invite every background, gender and age group to take part in the math discussion – the more voices we add, the better that discussion becomes.


Expanding the Conversation


Thanks to the efforts of Darja Barr, Math Mania has made it to the Canadian Prairies in the form of the Math Mania Indigenous Outreach and Mentorship Project. This project is making considerable strides in building connections with Indigenous communities across the province as well as with Indigenous students at the University of Manitoba.



At the end of May and into the first two weeks of June, 2017, Darja visited three communities in what were the first mathematics events of their kind in Manitoba: Opaskwayak Cree nation, The Pas; Sagkeeng First Nation Reserve, Pine Falls; Lake St. Martin School, Winnipeg.

Each site hosted a PIMS Math Mania event which ran for 30 minute blocks in the mornings, encouraging groups of students from grades K-8 to take part in a variety of educational math games. From Popsicle Stick Puzzles to the Error Correcting Code Game to a giant human-sized sorting algorithm that the kids could literally walk through, there was something for every student to find their own joy in mathematics.

But Darja couldn’t do it all on her own; volunteers included students from the Aboriginal Nursing Cohort Initiative (ANCI), math and science workers from the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre (MFNERC), and teachers and educational assistants from each school. It was a privilege to be able to work with all of the administrators, students, teachers and volunteers who worked with infectious passion and enthusiasm.



Our education coordinators consistently go above and beyond their call with limited time and resources. Darja’s efforts didn’t stop at Math Mania. In addition to these events, she provided each school with K-8 JUMP Math resources to keep and use, allowing local teachers to develop their fluency and confidence in the teaching of mathematics. We believe that helping to improve mathematics education can happen at every level, in every age group, from student to teacher.

The Future and the Universal Language

By making mathematics fun, fascinating and approachable¬¬, PIMS is encouraging young students from every walk of life to see math in all of its limitless beauty and possibility. As the demand for mathematical expertise in nearly every industry grows, we genuinely hope the relationships we foster through Math Mania, and other education outreach initiatives, will inspire students to pursue math and science throughout their academic and professional careers.

Math is the universal language. It is a lens through which we can view and interpret the world, the universe, biology, sustainability, and indeed, even the future. The more we help children learn and explore this fundamental language, the brighter our future becomes. This is the promise and the driving force of our Math Mania program.

For Darja, it was a joy to see children engaging in, and enjoying, challenging games and puzzles in what were the first – but certainly not the last - Manitoba Math Mania First Nations events.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication, Darja!


For more information about PIMS Math Mania contact:


In the greater Victoria area: 

Kristina McKinnon

(250) 472-427


In the greater Vancouver area:

Melania Alvarez

(604) 822-0404


In the greater Winnipeg area:

Darja Barr

(204) 272-1609