Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Problem Child"

A few years ago I was asked if I would be the head coach of the mathcounts program at SJMS. I think they asked me because it was my second year and I was still willing to do anything .... but because I was willing to do anything I accepted the challenge. Here is what the program is ... in a nutshell: Late September -- early October we invite the top 7th and 8th grade math students to attend mathcounts. From there we have weekly meetings practicing difficult math problems and getting ready for a competition held in January. Every year we have had more and more students attend. My first year we had 12. Last year we had 22 and this year 28!

These students make me feel ... inferior sometimes. I am sure that they love it when I show them how to do a problem ... and they show the group how THEY did the same problem. They love it when their way was easier than mine. There has been several times when I have had NO CLUE how to do a problem and they get the right answer. They are so so bright! It is fun to teach the top of the top.

This last January we held our first competition of the year. We brought all of our students (in matching t-shirts) and were ready to battle. The competition consists of three rounds. The first (sprint round) is 30 questions in fourty minutes ranging in difficulty. The next round (target round) consists of eight questions brought out two at a time. They have six minutes to answer those two questions. The last round that everyone participates in is a team round. Ten questions ... twenty minutes. Afterwards the "judges" tally the scores and pick the top ten. Our top student came in 7th place. This round (countdown) is where two students "face off" and eliminate the other. Some of these questions are UGLY but you have the top ten out of 200. When Erin, our top SOJO student, was up to battle our hole row of students cheered her on! By eliminating other students you can "up" your final placement. She was able to make it to fourth place. (She almost got third ... but the punk Midvale kid came from behind and beat her out ... we'll take him soon though!!)

I am so proud of my team! This is by FAR the best they have ever done. We compete in the regional competition on February 7th and if we do well there we go to state on March 28th. Last year Erin went to state as an individual ... but I am betting that my whole team will this year!

(The back of our shirts say "problem child" because what do math people do ... problems!)


Lynsey said...

Our kids are amazing! I hope we get to take a team to state!

Mom and Dad said...

Thanks for the rundown on your math team. I recognize the shirts from when you showed them to me earlier. How clever!!
Congrats to the kids and their teacher for doing so very well. They look like you have fun together! Especially enjoyed enlarging the pics so I could see all the silly antics!
Fun stuff, Jen!