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Acera students place first in state – and 15th worldwide – in math meet

By May 24, 2019March 29th, 2023No Comments

Students at Acera: The Massachusetts School of Science, Creativity and Leadership in Winchester placed first in the state – and 15th worldwide – in the Middle School 1-400 Division of Purple Comet Math Meet. The spring 2019 event drew more than 2,800 teams from 55 countries.

The Purple Comet is a free, on-line, international, team mathematics competition designed for middle and high school students. It has been conducted annually since 2003.

“These questions are unusually hard. It’s all about how well the team can solve a problem, not what students have memorized or practiced,” said Debbie Seidell, Acera’s math specialist and coordinator. “They also get to practice their teamwork skills, since they have up to six people working together. The team needs to utilize everyone’s math skills and then reach a consensus on the answers. I’m so proud not just of the students who participated, but also their peers who were so supportive of them.”

Acera, a nonprofit K-8 STEM school, places its students in a math class based upon start of year assessments that clarify what each student is ready to learn, regardless of age. Through its Education Innovation Initiative (AceraEI), Acera is working to encourage more schools to try this approach. Ability-based Math Block is one of AceraEI’s 10 Tools to Transform Schools.

Ability-based math classes free students to learn without constraints due to age or curricula,” said Acera founder and director Courtney Dickinson. “We have found that in this type of framework, new possibilities open up for math experiences for all kids. Math class becomes a place where kids get to learn in a way that fits their thinking style and readiness in applied and game-based ways. The satisfaction of figuring out hard problems – and applying a wide array of strategies to get there – enable students to manifest a growth mindset every day.”

Founded in 2010, Acera is a nonprofit K-8 STEM school that engages students in individualized, project-based learning that is designed around their passions and aligned with their own abilities. Acera’s Education Innovation Initiative (AceraEI) is partnering with other educators and STEM industry leaders to export its pilot-tested curricula to public schools. In addition to K-8 education, Acera offers daily after-school enrichment programs as well as February, April, and summer vacation camps. For more information, visit