The math team finished first place this weekend at the Camdenton High School math relay. The team has previously placed first and second overall in their division at previous math relays. Along with the overall wins, said Kevin Taylor, the team’s sponsor, many individual students from the team have won top overall student for their grade. Taylor enjoys witnessing the friendships that are created through the tension of solving tough questions in a group setting.
“Everyone feels that the tests are hard, and you accept that you won’t get every question correct,” Taylor said. “Often students are laughing at how tough some of the questions were, but then are really stoked when they find out they placed in the top five for that particular test. There’s also usually a bit of down time while we wait for awards, and students are playing games and having fun until the ceremony begins.”
Sophomore Genny Harline said she enjoys going to relays for similar reasons as Taylor described. She said the relays are relaxed events and are a great way for her to test what she has learned.
“I enjoy math relays because, on the team test, you work together with three other people to solve challenging problems,” Harline said, “and it’s really exciting when you can find the answer,”
The math team competes in more than just local relays. Math team students also participate in Mathleague and American Mathematics Competitions (AMC). Participants concentrate more out of class time for these tests because the questions go beyond high school math courses. Sophomore Kyle Chen said he had to learn new skills in order to excel in these competitions.
“I think the most difficult yet crucial math skill I had to learn was to connect a new problem to problems I already knew how to solve,” Chen said. “Another hard skill I had to learn was time management on the test in order to use my time wisely.”
Taylor oversees both teams as they compete throughout both semesters. While being the sponsor, he also helps students excel in both types of competitions. He emphasized the importance of students’ ability to memorize what they already learned.
“Students that do well in these contests often are students that can remember most of what they have been taught in their high school math classes,” Taylor said. “To me, this means that they have made sense of what they have learned and have a deep understanding. Students that memorize facts for a math test without seeking deep understanding often forget a lot of the concepts they might see in these contests.”