Nearly 200 Middle School Students Compete
The 24th annual regional MATHCOUNTS competition challenged nearly 200 students from 21 schools and home-schooled students throughout Southern Maryland to test their math skills at Calvert Middle School in Prince Frederick on Saturday, February 3, 2018.
A competitive technological world requires a proficiency in mathematics as a foundation for success in science, technology, and engineering. MATHCOUNTS aims to boost student interest in mathematics by making the subject challenging and entertaining. Each year, more than 500 regional competitions are held in middle schools across the country, with winners advancing to state competitions and then to the national competition.
According to its website, MATHCOUNTS alumni are more likely to continue with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), with 3 out of every 4 alumni studying a STEM field in college—nearly three times the national average. And MATHCOUNTS builds the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for success: 95% of teachers believe that MATHCOUNTS problems are effective at improving their students’ problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
The local MATHCOUNTS competition features rounds of mathematics problems to challenge students one-on-one and as teams over the course of the three-hour event. First is the sprint round, a 30-question test that students complete individually. The competitors go next to the target round, where they have four sets of math problems and six minutes to complete each set of two questions.
In the individual competition, which is based on combined scores in the sprint and target rounds, Holland Henderson-Boyer from Spring Ridge Middle School in St. Mary’s County placed first and Emma Vanden Berg from Milton Somers Middle School in Charles County placed second.
The top 12 scorers finish the competition by facing each other in the countdown round, a single-elimination tournament in which students must respond verbally to questions in a matter of seconds. Ryan Parker from Calvert Middle School finished first in the countdown round and Kyle Wojciechowski from Southern Middle School placed second. Both schools are in Calvert County.
In the team round, foursomes of students answer 10 questions in 20 minutes. In the team competition, Northern Middle School in Calvert County won first place; team members included Mara Durham, Jack MacMillan, Kyle Page, and Aidan Smyth, coached by Carole Butler. Leonardtown Middle School in St. Mary’s County placed second; team members included Caleb Bryan, Ben Dodge, Mika Jones, and Damanjit Singh, coached by Bernadette Scheetz. Milton Somers Middle School in Charles County won third place; team members included Will Alcorn, Rachel Chernoff, Taylor Peterson, and Emma Vanden Berg, coached by Jennifer Rowland. The team from Windy Hill Middle School took fourth place and Plum Point Middle School took fifth place. Both schools are in Calvert County.
Sponsors for the local MATHCOUNTS competition are SMECO and the Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s county public schools, with the support of the National Society of Professional Engineers. Volunteers from SMECO helped score the tests. Winners of the Southern Maryland chapter competition will go on to compete in the statewide contest at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The top four individual competitors from each state competition receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the national competition in Washington, DC, in May.