More Than 150 Middle School Students Compete This Year
Southern Maryland’s annual MATHCOUNTS competition marked its 30th anniversary on Saturday, February 3, 2024. More than 150 students from 18 schools gathered at Calvert High School in Prince Frederick to test their math skills.
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 three out of every four 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 percent 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, Paul Blachek from Piccowaxen Middle School in Charles County finished first and Kathryn Torgesen from Chesapeake Public Charter School in St. Mary’s County finished second.
The top 12 scorers finish the competition by facing each other in the countdown round, a single-elimination bracket-based tournament in which students must respond verbally to questions in a matter of seconds. Mason Hall from Leonardtown Middle School in St. Mary’s County placed first and Zach Greer from Father Andrew White School in St. Mary’s County placed second.
In the team round, foursomes of students answer 10 questions in 20 minutes. Northern Middle School in Calvert County won first place; team members were Jacob Byun, Julio Castillo, Zac Gingue, and Reed Noltemeyer, coached by Kathy Dempster. Piccowaxen Middle placed second; team members were Paul Blachek, Kai Scott, Marcellus White, and Drake Scott, coached by Jennifer Rowland and co-coached by Deborah Simmons. Leonardtown Middle School won third place; team members were Mason Hall, Addison Owen, Elliot Orthner, and Kamilla Moore, coached by Christy Orthner and co-coached by Jessica Toth. A team from Margaret Brent Middle School in St. Mary’s County took fourth place and Father Andrew White School took fifth place.
Sponsors for the local MATHCOUNTS competition are SMECO and the Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s county public schools. 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, D.C., in May.