Middle school mathletes’ skills add up

By Denise Dick



Poland Middle School students Mum Masaki, Ashlin Rabindra and Philip Hockensmith say it’s easy.

As part of their school’s Bulldogs Mathletes Team, seventh-grader Mum, 12, and sixth-graders Ashlin, 11, and Philip, 12, competed Thursday in the 31st MATHCOUNTS at Youngstown State University.

They were among nearly 200 middle-school and junior-high school students from roughly 20 Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana county schools testing their mathematics skills.

The competition is sponsored by the Mahoning Valley Society of Professional Engineers and YSU’s William Rayen School of Engineering and Engineering Technology in the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The three boys list math as their favorite subject.

“It’s easy,” Ashlin said.

“It’s fun to do,” Mum added.

“It’s easy,” Philip agreed.

Ashlin likes the kinds of problems that stick to numbers — no words. Mum enjoys geometry, and Philip appreciates “any math problem.”

Ashlin competed in the team contests for his school while Mum and Philip competed as individuals.

To be selected as Poland Mathletes, students faced off in math fetes within their classes. The top four scorers were picked to compete in team contests. The next six were selected to compete as individuals, and the next four were tapped as alternates.

Dave Ritter of the Mahoning Valley Society of Professional Engineers said MATHCOUNTS participants, while sixth-through eighth-graders, are asked to execute high-school-level math problems.

“These students are the top of their class in the math field,” he said.

Problems cover algebra, probability, statistics and geometry.

Ritter’s father, Jack Ritter, a retired YSU civil-engineering professor, said a team and individual winner would be picked at the contest who will compete in the state event.

The state winner will go on to the national competition.

About eight years ago, the winner of the contest at YSU advanced to the national event.

It’s up to each school to determine how to select its students for MATHCOUNTS.

Taryn Sallie, 14, and La’Rayja Hill, 13, both eighth-graders, were part of the team from Chaney High School’s STEM program.

“The problems started out pretty easy, but they got harder,” Taryn said.

Pam Lubich, Chaney STEM coordinator, said team members were selected based on their performance on the Ohio Achievement Assessment. Those students attended practice sessions, and Lubich picked four seventh- graders and four eighth-graders to compete.

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