Rossland mathletes get top marks

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
May 4th, 2011

Rossland’s math minds were some of the sharpest in the field last week as a host of teams brought home medals and memories from the annual School District 20 Math Festival held at Stanley Humphries Elementary last week. Over 340 of the region’s finest young minds from Rossland, Trail and Castlegar competed in the intense team problem-solving competition on April 27.

Making up Rossland Secondary and MacLean Elementary’s strong showing, RSS sixth graders Bronwyn Moore, Madeline Grace-Wood, Caelum Scott, and Riley Cameron (pictured from above) took first place in their grade, followed closely by RSS Team #3 in third place. Grade Sevens from RSS also placed second. MacLean fifth grade students took top honours, and the school secured two second place finishes in Grades Three and Four as well.

Having run for many years now, the Math Festival at its core is designed as a way to get kids excited about mathematics, turned on to working with numbers and embedding life-long skills into the students.

“The goal is to develop team problem solving skills and to build an enthusiasm for math much like you have for volleyball tournaments and basketball tournaments,” explained Denise Flick, SD20 Learning Coordinator. “It’s also an opportunity for grades three to eight to work together so that the younger children can see that the older students are still excited and involved in math.”

Each school in the district registered students at each grade levels in the event. Those groups were then provided a package of challenging problems to be solved together. On site are 24 wandering judges that go through and grade group’s answers on the spot as they answer them, awarding points along the way. At the end of the hour long competition the team with the most points was awarded the trophy.

For weeks prior to the event, champion teachers at each school have worked with the groups putting in long hours at times to get the kids prepared for the competition.

“That’s the aspect you don’t see up front as much,” commented Flick. “We couldn’t do this event so well and have such a good result for the kids without our teachers and volunteers helping these kids along, organizing them and getting them excited about the event.”

As for whether or not the festival is having the desired effects of getting kids excited about math, one need look no further than the smiling, excited faces around the gym as students engaged in the problems. Indeed, kids have voted in favour of the event simply with their attendance each year.

“The results are that we’re seeing an increasing interest in student participation each year,” added Flick. “Schools know that the questions are quite rigorous and of course it’s voluntary on the part of the students to participate so we’re seeing that the event is working by the attendance which keeps going up and up every year.”

When the event was first launched it had fewer than 200 participants. This year just shy of 350 students came out to flex their mental muscles and prove just who is the strongest group of mathletes in the district. Showing up and competing in fine form, Rossland students excelled at the event and now have the medals to show for it and math filled memories from a fun day of calculating competition outside the classroom.

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