By Denise Dick
Mahoning Valley middle- school students leaned over their calculators, working to solve a series of problems and equations.
The young “mathletes” from 23 middle and junior-high schools from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties participated Thursday in the 30th annual MATHCOUNTS in the Chestnut Room of Youngstown State University’s Kilcawley Center.
Dave Ritter of the Mahoning Valley Society of Professional Engineers said the contest tests students’ algebra and geometry knowledge.
“These are probably students in a higher level of math,” he said. “They’re on track to take AP [advanced placement] math courses in high school.”
Eighth-graders George Wallace and Cade Santha, both 14, were two competitors from Boardman Center Middle School.
Their teacher “asked who wanted to be part of it, and then we went to practices,” Cade explained.
George said the team has been practicing before school for several weeks.
The contest includes individual and team competition, and top scorers in both categories go on to compete in Columbus at the state level.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Cade said.
But it’s not easy. The problems are challenging, the boys said.
For the team portion, the students have 20 minutes to work together to solve 10 problems.
The hardest part was agreeing on an answer, said seventh-graders Lauryn Todd, 13, and Branson Brownfield, 12, and eighth-grader Bailey McCullough, 14, of Lisbon David Anderson Junior/ Senior High School.
“You have to show your work,” Bailey said.
Teammates then try one another’s solving method to determine the best answer.
Branson, who was part of the school’s top team, said math is his favorite subject. He thought his team did pretty well.
The Lisbon students’ math teacher, Ashley Wallace, said the top 14 students are chosen to participate in MATHCOUNTS from math club members, based on a test.