More than 80 students from nine Rio Grande Valley middle schools competed for a large number of shiny trophies in the MATHCOUNTS regional competition Feb. 6 at The University of Texas-Pan American Engineering Building auditorium.
Locally sponsored by the UTPA School of Engineering and Computer Science and the Lone Star National Bank, the event consists of written and oral testing and includes individual and team competitions. The event coordinator, Dr. Subhash Bose, professor and chair of the Department of Manufacturing Engineering at UTPA, also serves as the coordinator of the RGV MATHCOUNTS chapter.
"MATHCOUNTS is directed to middle school students because it heightens student interest in mathematics and also encourages them to take more math classes as they move on to high school. The earlier we create interest in math, it gives them a good foundation in math and they feel comfortable taking more math classes in high school," Bose said.
The competition involves three different types of rounds - sprint, target and team. The sprint round tests accuracy within a time limit. The target round features multi-step problems that require reasoning and problem solving processes. The team round requires students to work in teams of four to solve problems emphasizing the type of teamwork required by professional engineers.
MATHCOUNTS is a math enrichment program targeted to sixth through eighth graders to enhance problem solving skills and interest in math. In its 21st year in Texas, it is sponsored at the state level by the Texas Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE) and the Texas Engineering Foundation.
Charlotte Oliver, a B.L. Gray teacher and first place coach's award winner, said she was excited about her team's participation and win.
"It's important because they compete in so many other things. This competition recognizes their abilities and gives them the opportunity to have an edge, and in turn, enriches their learning process," Oliver said.
Chase Young, who is a student at H. George Guiterrez and placed first as an individual and third as a member of his team, said he enjoyed competing in the MATHCOUNTS competition.
"I like to participate because I am good at it and it is fun. I get to go on to Austin," he said.
An all-expenses paid trip to Austin in March went to the top team and individual champions to compete in the state competition where the Mathletes®, as the student competitors are called, have the opportunity to vie for scholarships and prizes such as computers and software. The top four winners in the state will head to Washington D.C. in May for the national competition.
Winning student teams and members included: First - B.L. Gray with Tony Villarreal, Ana Choi, Jonathan Havener and Sirenia Kim; Second - Coakley with Philip Chen, Cassandra Swanberg, Andy Kuo and Hasan Motiwala; Third - H. George Gutierrez with Chase Young, Anthony Dominguez, Michael McKnight and Ethen Sanchez; and Fourth - San Juan with Alex Ramirez, Stephanie Garza, Cecilia Corral and Geneva Castellanos. The B.L. Gray and Coakley teams will advance to the state competition.
Top winning individual students included: First - Chase Young, H. George Gutierrez; Second - Hasan Motiwala, Coakley; Third - Tony Villarreal, B.L. Gray; Fourth - Andy Kuo, Coakley; Fifth - Jonathan Havener, B.L. Gray; and Sixth - Sirenia Kim, B.L. Gray. Young will move on to state to participate as an individual along with another top individual winner Peter Jung, a B.L. Gray student.
For more information on MATHCOUNTS or to participate in next year's competition, contact Bose at 956/381-2608 or log on to www.tspe.org or www.mathcounts.org