The student news site of Omaha North High Magnet School

Mathletes compete in North tradition

September 26, 2014

Algebra, geometry, statistics. All are what participants in the math contest needed to know to excel.

The North High Math Contest is the first major math competition of the academic year. It has been a school tradition for 14 years.

In 2000, Darren Holley, former North teacher, started the math contest in order to have an available competition that took place earlier than November.

The North contest usually takes place the first school day back after Labor Day and starts off the math competition season.

Since the beginnings of the contest, nine to thirteen schools participate per year. Ninth to twelfth graders have been allowed to participate, along with some eighth graders, depending on what school they attend.

Participating schools in the September second contest ranged from Lincoln East to Central. There were 138 students from twelve schools.

Holley wrote the test for the math contest. Registration, proofreading, and running the contest was the responsibility of Andrew Blazek, math teacher.

With a difference of 5.2 points, Lincoln East’s team was first ahead of the North team. The Central team came in third, being a whole 39.8 points behind North.

Individually, members of the North team placed well. Derek Chew, junior, placed sixth and Sarah McCarty, junior, placed ninth. Andrew Wishart, senior, placed fifteenth, Brad Tuttle, senior, placed nineteenth, and Darrel Chew, sophomore, placed twentieth.

Team members have participated in the world of math competitions for multiple years. Much of their preparation stems from the prior experience and from practicing in Math Club.

The contest is formatted off of the Great Plains Math League Contest, with a team section and a relay section, which was later dropped by Holley given that students preferred a speed round.

Darrel Chew believes that the speed round is one of the best aspects of the math contest. He considers it “fun to work through short but challenging problems while knowing how little time was given to solve them.”

Participants are drawn to the math contest for a variety of reasons- to test their mathematical abilities against others, to be around others who enjoy math, and because it has become a personal tradition.

“The best part of the math competition is being able to meet and compete with my other mathlete friends from schools like Lincoln East, Central, and Millard South. Winning is nice, but the social aspect is much better,” Derek Chew said.

For some, the math contest is simply considered a worthwhile intellectual pursuit.

“I like a good puzzle- which math contest-like problems usually are,” Tuttle said.

Questions in math contests mainly focus on problem solving with the mathematical concepts. This gives participants real life skills that can extend beyond mathematics.

“The skills I’ve learned go way past math and into fields that are seemingly disjoint with mathematics, like politics,” Tuttle said on how the math contest helps him.

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