Students go extra mile to prepare for MATHCOUNTS
COLUMBUS, Feb 03, 2013 (Columbus Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Columbus Middle School students were about to see if all those early mornings of number crunching were going to pay off.
For weeks, 14 students came to school an hour early to practice algebra, geometry and other math skills. The dedication was in preparation for the annual Northeast Nebraska MATHCOUNTS competition held Saturday at Central Community College-Columbus.
About 100 students from 14 local and area schools took part in the national math program for middle school students.
CMS has been fielding a team for more than a decade. Each year, at least one student has scored high enough during the competition to qualify for state. MATHCOUNTS consists of a series of team and individual timed tests. The top three teams and top four individuals earn the right to continue on to state.
The competition is designed to spark an interest in mathematics among middle school students. It seems to be working at CMS, where team advisor Lindsay Hollman said more students are trying out for the team each year.
The team maxes out at about 15, but she said there are usually 35-40 students who show interest in joining the team each year. Two eighth-graders on the team this year are Maddalynne Armstrong and Braedyn Iwan.
Neither said they thought they were great at math, but after taking a test that is given to possible team members, Armstrong discovered she had a good amount of math skills. Both students said math is a subject that is important in life.
"Any job you do, it will have math. Even if you are just going to spend the day shopping, you are still going to use math because you have to budget," Iwan said.
The skills needed for MATHCOUNTS is advanced for middle school students.
"My friends who look at the stuff we do have no idea what we are doing," Armstrong said, adding that taking part in MATHCOUNTS will give her a leg up in high school.
Lowell Dolney, coordinator for the local competition, said the program is helping show students the future they can have with a strong math background.
"I'm glad to see how many students enjoy this competition year after year. Developing skills in mathematics can help students pursue great careers such as engineering, accounting, education, business and countless scientific and technical fields," Dolney said.
Lakeview Junior/Senior High School also had a team. The six members earned their place on the team based on scores on Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS), said advisor Kathy Adamson.
Blake Langmack, an eighth-grader, said math has always been his favorite subject, so it was an easy decision for him to tryout. Apart from taking part in the competition, he sees the significance of students learning mathematics skills.
"It's obviously important. You can't do any job without it. Architects need it for angles and even a cashier needs it to add and subtract," he said.
It is estimated that 500,000 middle school students across the nation take part in MATHCOUNTS every year. The state competition will be held in Lincoln in March. The top four students in Lincoln will move on to nationals held in Washington, D.C., in May.
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