WMS students solve problems, learn and have fun at Math Masters competition
The contest can be eye-opening for the students, coach Tiffany Neugebauer said, because they’re all accustomed to excelling at the grade-level math they do in the classroom.
WORTHINGTON — Understanding math can unlock the secrets of the universe, from why human-proportioned giants can’t exist to whether a rogue wave could’ve sunk the Edmund Fitzgerald — and a group of Worthington Middle School students who participated in the Math Masters regional contest last week in Marshall is just getting started.
In Math Masters, students in fourth, fifth and sixth grades compete as individuals, first with a timed round of math facts, then in three rounds of story problems. After that, the students break up into teams of five for three additional rounds of story problems.
Worthington Math Masters coaches Linda Schaefer and Tiffany Neugebauer brought 15 students to the contest in Marshall last week, and three students ranked high in individual competition: Cameron Kinser earned sixth place and Sawyer Roos placed seventh. Both are sixth-graders. Fifth-grader Enri Fuentes earned 10th.
Schaefer and Neugebauer have taken students to Math Masters competitions for seven years. Typically they select kids to participate by examining their test scores as well as in-class performance, but there are other key factors that help them decide who goes too, like having the personality to work well with others.
The math problems in the competition aren’t easy, and can involve anything from cars driving in reverse to making change with specific coins. Most of the WMS students seemed to enjoy the team rounds more.
“It’s a lot easier, because five brains are a lot better than one,” said fifth-grader Bethany Abota.
“In the team rounds, you’re not just relying on yourself,” Kinser agreed. “You’re relying on your team.”
The contest can be eye-opening for the students, Neugebauer said, because they’re all accustomed to excelling at the grade-level math they do in the classroom. Going to Math Masters offers them a chance to compete with others who excel and try more difficult, complex math that they may not be familiar with.
“(It’s) a more challenging approach to them. They can still learn lots,” Neugebauer added.
The students enjoyed the teamwork involved in the group competition and all of them said they would go back again next year if they could.
“We still have a lot to learn, and you never stop learning,” Schaefer said.
WMS sixth-grade students who participated were Kinser, Brayden Raymo, Sawyer Roos, Brooklyn Dykstra and Aurora Ramos Ramos. WMS fifth-graders were Fuentes, Abota, Elizabeth Anderson, Lucas Flynn and Andrew Bristow on one team; and Hannah Dailey, Talen Turner, Preston Kumi, Yair Hernandez and Rut Ramos Ramos on another.
Other area schools also sent teams to the competition, including Adrian, Murray County Central and Windom.