DOBSON — Central Middle School played host on Tuesday to the MathCounts district tournament, where Gentry Middle, Meadowview Middle and Pilot Mountain Middle School joined them for the competition. Cox said the tourney does have parallels with other sporting competitions and that once again the perennial powerhouse, Pilot Mountain was on the minds of many as the team to beat this year.
MathCounts is a state-sanctioned math competition for middle school students. The mission of MathCounts is to make math interesting and fun through competition, while enforcing the idea that math is an integral part of everyday life. Information from MathCounts says it is designed to enrich the math instruction of students through collaboration, problem solving, and tackling real world challenges.
Seventh grade math teacher Phyllis Watson said she has participated in the tournaments for seven years and the competition has been going on nationally for 20 years. She said she liked the recent addition of sixth graders to the competition which was formerly only for seventh and eighth grade students. It includes both written rounds and oral rounds where students literally have to think on their feet.
“I really am enjoying the renewed emphasis on math now,” said Watson. “This tournament has always been competitive. We have four rounds with the cumulative scores deciding it. The first three rounds are written and in the last round problems are flashed up on the board with the one who answers first getting the most points.”
Watson said she has seen math skills for participants in MathCounts improve and has also seen it help them in the classroom. She said the emphasis on “real world” problems has always been a part of math where she tells students logic problems with no numbers are still math and problem solving is a skill that will always serve them well.
“The students get really excited about math and this tournament,” said Cox. “I’ve seen an increase in girls participating over the last few years. Typically, we have 10 members on a team with two alternates but we’ve had as many as eight alternates who continue on in team participation even though they don’t make the final cut. That was cool to see.”
The MathCounts Foundation web site says local teachers may use the free MathCounts curriculum materials to supplement classroom materials or as an extracurricular activity. Educators are encouraged to capitalize on the MathCounts materials to challenge students and motivate them to develop strong math skills by participating in MathCounts competitions.
Although organizers feel it is important to honor achievement of the district champions with medals and a trophy, all of the teams in the district tourney will participate to the regional which will be held in Winston-Salem this Saturday.
“We have all categories of personalities participate in MathCounts,” said Cox. “We have those who are more athletically oriented and have some who are introverts. They still all gel as a team and support each other just as any other team normally would.”
The results were not available Tuesday by the Mount Airy News press deadline.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.