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'Mathletes' exercise mental fitness at annual school competition

Another winning answer for the Bradshaw Mountain High School College Bowl team competing at the NAU-Yavapai County Mathematics Competition Jan. 26 at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. From left are Josh Sanderson, Ryan Madler, Joey Cilano and Austin Kent.<br>
Trib Photo/Sue Tone

Another winning answer for the Bradshaw Mountain High School College Bowl team competing at the NAU-Yavapai County Mathematics Competition Jan. 26 at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. From left are Josh Sanderson, Ryan Madler, Joey Cilano and Austin Kent.<br> Trib Photo/Sue Tone

Math students from the high school and three middle schools in the Humboldt Unified School District gave their brains a work out this past week when 44 "mathletes" took part in the Northern Arizona University-Yavapai County Mathematics competition at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

"We know that the contest is more than just a basic paper-and-pencil test to test general mathematical skills. Students need to use those skills to think outside of the box to problem solve in a completely new situation," said Val Young, Bradshaw Mountain High School math teacher.

About 300 students from 15 public, charter and private schools participated in the annual event on Jan. 26, which began at 8 a.m. with a 75-minute individual exam and a 30-minute team exam. 

The highest scoring team from each school in the Team Competition moved on to the College Bowl, which is a multi-round, elimination event similar to Jeopardy where pairs of teams of up to four students vie to hit the buzzer first with the correct answer.

To provide competitive equality for younger students in the individual exams, students of high school age were scored in levels; Level 1 beginning with Algebra classes to Level 5, at or above Calculus.

Bradshaw Mountain High School

"Each of our students is selected by their current mathematics teachers based on their performance in class. Their knowledge, their aptitude for understanding in a variety of contexts, and their adaptation to new situations are a few of the criteria we use when selecting the students," Young said.

Ryan Madler earned second place in the Research Problem. He had to divide a rectangle into dominoes, of which no two were the same size. A domino, in this case, is any rectangle twice as long as it is wide.

At Level 2, Emily McGrane took a second place win and Jaclyn Cherry earned third place. Kolten Leffler earned first place for Level 4. Kolten also took third place in the Top Ten Individual awards. In the Top Schools by Level awards, BMHS took second place in Level 2 and third place in Level 4. The school won second place after Tri-City Prep in Top Overall Schools.

College Bowl contest

The BMHS College Bowl team of Josh Sanderson, Ryan Madler, Austin Kent, and Joey Cilano drew a bye in the first round, as 15 schools - an uneven number - took part in the Bowl.

Bradshaw Mountain Prep (formerly Bradshaw Mountain Middle School) and Liberty Traditional Prep won their first match and moved to the second round, with Glassford Hill falling to Chino Valley High School.

In the second round, Liberty students competed against BMHS. The seventh- and eighth-graders performed quite well, winning the first, fifth and sixth points, only to lose 4-3. BM Prep lost to Prescott Mile High Middle School.

In the third round, the high school students lost 4-2 to Tri-City Prep. In the final round, the Orme School team correctly answered all five math problems in less than two minutes to defeat the very strong team from Tri-City Prep.

Bradshaw Mountain Prep

Ryan Ingram is the team coach for BMP. He instructs the mathletes in Pre-AP Algebra coursework and during after-school academic club time. He said the students' dedication to math is evident.

"We are very proud of the accomplishments of our students. They were all very excited and showed the decorum and respect that is the epitome of our students. Our students walked away with several awards for their efforts, and we couldn't be more proud of their accomplishments," Ingram said.

Math is only one part of the school's STEAM curriculum - Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. The program challenges students to learn and achieve through differentiated instruction that meets the varying needs and abilities of the students, he said.

The BMP College Bowl team consisted of seventh-graders Kaleb Lyonnais and Kobey Rushton, and eighth-graders Harrison Ulrich and Jonathan Quinonez.

Glassford Hill Prep

At Glassford Hill, math instructor Rick Bothell coached the team of Adrian Kania, Brent Sherwood, Esperanza Calderon, and Hannah Madler (College Bowl team), and Karina Fernandez, Josh Fyfe, Sammantha Kibler, Jesse Rodriguez, and Sydney Sundell.

Josh Fyfe earned a fifth place finish in the Individual Competition at Level 1.

"We didn't prepare for this contest other than our normal class of Honors Algebra," Bothell said. "Next year we hope to have a math club/math competition club to motivate math students and to prepare students for competitions such as this. We hope to have some fun competitions between schools, much like our volleyball team has games against other schools."

He said potential future competitions are the Arizona State Math Contest on Feb. 22 and the Arizona Association of Teachers of Mathematics State Competition on May 10.

Liberty Traditional Prep

LTS math teacher William Bailey said the school's math program always has been good.

"We are trying to get more students involved with math outside the classroom. Our Pre-AP students and Algebra 1 students work hard on a daily basis to improve all aspects of learning, not just Algebra," he said.

Math teachers at Liberty are working more on problem solving skills, which is what competitions stress, solving problems quickly and correctly. Bailey said students work on these skills weekly, if not daily.

"Math competitions are good for everyone involved, even if the students are overmatched in math levels and types of problems," he added.

Competing in the College Bowl were Rachel Campbell, Morgyn Morgan, Ryan Howe, and Kaitlyn DeHerrera. Kobe Hardin, Bryanna Allen, Isabella Wheeler and Noah Herman also participated in the competition. Rachel Campbell earned third place and Bryanna Allen finished fourth in the Level 1 category. Liberty came in second in the Top School Level 1 division.

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