Full Service Westside

Though the winter athletic season has finished for the year, mathletes across Muscatine County and Iowa in general have reached the heart of their competition season. Through a program called MathCounts, middle school students from Muscatine and West Liberty, as well as other regional schools, have the opportunity to sharpen their math skills and compete against some of the best math students in the state to vie for state and even national titles. On Friday, February 22nd, students from Central and West Middle Schools in Muscatine, West Liberty Middle School, as well as Mathletes from Burlington and Mediapolis, faced off to see who could win the chapter competition and move on to compete at state.
Since 2000, Stanley Consultants has hosted the MathCounts chapter competition, which they cosponsor along with the Iowa Engineering Society as part of their yearly Engineering Week celebration. In this all morning event, students in grades six through eight compete in four different events to determine the overall winner and which teams will advance to state. Starting with the sprint round, students must answer thirty questions and try to get as many correct as possible. Next, in the target round, students must answer four sets of two questions with only six minutes to finish each pair. In the team round, each school selects four students to work together to complete ten math problems in twenty minutes. Finally, in the nail-biting countdown round, the top ten scorers overall go head to head in a seeded competition where each student races to finish timed math questions before their opponent does.
From the competition’s organizers at Stanley Consultants to the coaches who prepare each team for the event, everyone involved in MathCounts feels it offers important opportunities for students to expand their math skills and grow their confidence. Grant Askren, an electrical engineer at Stanley Consultants who has helped run the MathCounts chapter competition for the last six years stated, “math is involved in every aspect of life . . .. There are kids who are excited about it, and the competition feeds that excitement.”
Caleb Mann, the West Middle School MathCounts coach for the past four years expanded on Askren’s thoughts, saying, “it’s good enrichment for them. They’re really advanced in math . . . so it’s a good challenge for them.” With questions covering materials frequently not taught until students take high school level math classes, the MathCounts competition accelerates students learning of math and pushes them to explore more math concepts than they would in their regular math class. Becky Stogdill, Central Middle School’s gifted and talented teacher with five years MathCounts coaching experience, also appreciates this aspect of the competition. “A lot of students don’t have daily challenges in the classroom. This gives them a way to stretch their thinking and use logic skills they usually wouldn’t, “she added.
After a grueling countdown round lasting nearly an hour, West Middle School’s Garrett Head won the chapter competition with Central Middle School’s Peyton Crumly coming in a close second. Once Stanley Consultants team of eleven volunteer graders finished totaling each student’s and team’s score, they determined that West Middle School, West Liberty Middle School, and Mediapolis had taken first through third place respectively as teams, and would advance to the state competition in Des Moines on March 29th. With so many talented area mathletes, these students will surely make their math skills count, and reflect well on their schools, as they advance to the next level of competition.

Full Service Westside