On Saturday, February 18, 2017, Cascades Academy proudly sent its first all-girls MathCounts team to the MathCounts Chapter Competition at Crook County Middle School. The stellar team of 8th-graders represented Cascades Academy well, and though we didn't qualify for the MathCounts State Competition, the experience left a very positive impression on the girls.
MathCounts is a national competition program for middle school students that consists of four rounds at each level of competition: chapter (local), state, and national. The questions are very challenging, and designed to really stretch the brain in all areas of mathematics. MathCounts likes to play on the competition aspect of the program. In fact, Mathletes that compete in the program can train for the local competition through various Warm-Ups, Workouts, and Stretches several months prior to the actual competition.
In my Algebra I class, I have several students thirsty for an extra challenge; I have been able to incorporate several aspects of the MathCounts program into the curriculum to help quench this thirst. I've had several girls in the class this year that have consistently worked with the program, and they were excited about the competition as a result. I can't begin to mention how excited I was to help lead these girls through the program. What a confidence builder for them! These girls are such strong math students, and they took on each new challenge with tenacity and fearlessness. In addition to practicing many problems, we worked on costumes, songs, and dances to help take the edge off the pressure of the competition. The matching outfits the girls wore to the competition were positively noted by the competition coordinator!
The first round (Sprint Round) is an individual round that consists of 30 questions in 40 minutes. I peeked in on the girls at the end of this round and got a few thumbs-up signals. The second round (Target Round) is an individual round with four pairs of questions. Mathletes have six minutes to answer each pair. The girls commented on the difficulty of that round but were excited for the third round (Team Round). The Team Round consists of 10 questions in 20 minutes, and the entire team works together to answer the questions. After the third round, the local competition was over, and the girls could relax with lunch and prepare themselves for the final round: the Prize Round. The Prize Round is a fun round where questions are projected on a screen. Any competitor can raise his/her hand to answer a question; if the competitor is right, he/she receives a gift card. Three out of the four girls on our team won a gift card! I was so proud of all the girls for raising their hands for several of the questions and not getting discouraged for giving a wrong answer.
Although the team didn't place, the girls left feeling empowered and more than capable. I hope they'll use this experience to continue to develop their interest and talents in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields.-Becca Schroeder, MS Math and English Teacher