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(May 2017 Newsletter) Math Is Cool at Clovis

By Nhan Pham

Not all sports need a ball or field to play. For one particular contest, knowing your numbers is not only necessary - it’s actually cool to do so. For the Math is Cool teams at Clovis Point Intermediate School, students compete by relying on their mathematical skills. Math is Cool is a statewide competition for grades 4-12 comprised of regional and state-level events. Top qualifiers at the regional level receive invitations to compete at Masters, which takes place at Moses Lake High School in May.

Clovis Point has Math is Cool teams for both fifth and sixth graders. Katie Tucker, a math teacher and coach for the sixth-grade team, said students join because they love to learn and be part of a group dynamic.

“They want that extra challenge,” she said. “The kids get to do rigorous math. It’s a choice getting to work with the team.”

There are no grades or extra credit for these students who join Math is Cool, rather these students wish to get a jump-start on their math knowledge, Tucker said. For the sixth graders, it can mean exploring seventh and eighth-grade concepts ahead of schedule as an example.

When it comes to prepping for Math is Cool competitions, Tucker said she focuses on keeping everything engrossing for the students. Months away before an event, the team meets up a few times a week after school - even on Fridays, no less. They practice and learn with games to keep things fun.

“I’ve never had a group that wasn’t excited,” Tucker said, who has now coached the sixth-grade team for 12 years.

Different phases make up the Math is Cool competition. Students compete both individually and as part of four-person units. A typical event at the fourth-to-sixth grade level has written tests, a mental math portion, team relays and finally a college (quiz) bowl. Questions start off easy for the students’ grade level, but they become progressively harder during the phases, Tucker said. In addition, proctors score everything as either correct or wrong. There is no partial credit.

“I’ve always loved math,” said Jaime Hobson, a sixth-grade team member.

Hobson said she has competed in Math is Cool since elementary school. Individually, she has excelled in competitions. At the last regional event, she placed in the top six out of hundreds of other students.

“I just think it’s really fun (to compete in Math is Cool),” she said. “We did really well. We have a good team and a great coach.”

The sixth-grade team placed second in a regional event this year, and the fifth-grade team placed first. Clovis Point will send a team of fifth and sixth-grade teams to the Masters event at Moses Lake High School in May. Tucker said she is proud of the students for their hard work, dedication and perseverance. The students get to represent their school with pride while learning valuable math skills to help them in the classroom and beyond.

“I hope (Math is Cool) as a program continues,” she said. “It’s beneficial and a high-quality competition.”

(Photos by Katie Tucker.)

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