Math Counts

The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders huddled over paper, scratching out figures and letting their fingers fly over calculators in an effort to beat each other in competitive math.

Forty-three students from seven schools participated in the annual MATHCOUNTS Northern Utah chapter competition at Weber State University on Saturday.

“I like the challenge of solving problems,” said Parker Swanson, a seventh grader from DaVinci Academy.

His two older brothers, who are now in 10th and 12th grades, have competed in MATHCOUNTS, said Kristy Swanson, Parker’s mother.

His coach, Micki Balaich, said the competition helps students look at math in a different way. Most of her students who compete practice solving problems after school each week.

Monte McLaws, a Centerville eighth-grader, said the competition got easier as the day progressed.

“It’s kind of fun to figure out the problems and solve them,” Monte said.

Monte and the other students agree that math makes sense to them because it is a logical way to think.

High school teachers and counselors volunteered to supervise the competition.

“These are the kids I will never, ever see,” said Ben Wiley, a Northridge High School counselor. “These kids are on the fast track and will be in the early college program. They are our future engineers and astronauts, and the ones who will find the cure for cancer.”

The top two teams, plus top two individuals, will head for the state competition on March 9 in Salt Lake City, said Natalie Little, Northern Utah Chapter coordinator.

The winners of the state competition head for the 2013 Raytheon MATHCOUNTS National Competition on May 10 in Washington, D.C.

MATHCOUNTS has a number of national sponsors, including the Raytheon Company, U.S. Department of Defense, National Society of Professional Engineers and Texas Instruments Inc.

More than 250,000 students are participating in the 2013 MATHCOUNTS program, representing more than 5,500 schools from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and Department of Defense and State Department-affiliated schools. More than 6 million students have participated since the program began in 1983.

Students competed in four rounds that test accuracy, mathematical reasoning, problem-solving processes and teamwork.

Schools competing in Saturday’s event were Burton Elementary in Kaysville; Valley View Elementary in Bountiful; DaVinci Academy in Ogden; Centennial Junior High in Kaysville; Mount Logan Middle School in Logan; Good Foundations Academy in Riverdale; and Centerville Junior High in Centerville. Each school signed up to participate.

Originally written by Loretta Park for the Ogden Standard Examiner