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The final two competitors wait anxiously for the last question of the final round. The last 45-second question is the most difficult question competitors have seen all day. The winner of today will walk away with a spot in the state competition and a chance to win the highly sought-after Long Board from a raffle.
After months of preparation, middle-school mathletes from all over northern Utah competed in a national Mathcounts competition on Saturday in the Shepherd Union Building’s Ballroom C. The expected turnout was seven schools, each bringing 43 students.
The program is designed to improve math skills among U.S. students. The focus goes to middle-school students in the developing stages for math interest and ability. The national Mathcounts organization wants students to develop problem-solving, analytical abilities and logical thinking while in middle school.
More than 250,000 students are participating in the nationwide Mathcounts program for 2013. Since the program began in 1983, more than 6 million students have participated.
Ayden Richards, an eighth-grade student at Centerville Junior High, said his team has been preparing for this competition for a couple months with weekly practices. Mathcounts.org features resources for teachers and students to get sample problems and prepare for the upcoming competitions.
The competition consists of four rounds. The first three are closed to the public, while the final round allows public entry to watch the competition. The first round is called the sprint round and focuses on accuracy, allowing the most time-conscientious students to succeed.
The second round is the target round, which engages the competitors in multi-stage problems of mathematical reasoning and problem-solving.
The third round is the team round, in which teams work together to solve problems.
“I am most excited for the team round, because we all work well together,” said Monte McLaws, an eighth-grade student from Centerville Junior High. “Each one of us is good at one specific area, so together we make a great team.”
Teams took a break for lunch while the judges scored and ranked for the final round of competition.
The fourth round is the countdown round, in which the top-scoring mathletes are tested in pairs without the use of a calculator. The top 10 contestants in this competition were all from different schools. They competed in a one-on-one round until Raymond Li of Mount Logan Middle School was determined the winner.
There are four levels of competition in Mathcounts, starting by school, then local (which is the Weber State University competition), state and national.
Trophies were given to students in the top-ranking teams and individually ranked students. The top three individuals and the top three teams will go on to the state competition on March 9.