Math is one of those things that people either love or hate (or fear). Either way there is an organization that offers solutions for both. Mathcounts.org purpose is to make math fun. They focus on grades 6-8, a critical juncture in a young person’s life, to impact their positive attitudes, problem solving skills, and career opportunities exponentially. With over 250,000 participants they have a track record that speaks for itself. Math club lapel pins, math club key chains, math club buttons, and other merchandise are sold in their online store to support participants and help fund programs and activities. It’s an organization anybody can rally around.
With chapters in each of the 50 states, the impact of MATHCOUNTS is far reaching. Each year Mathcounts has a national competition held in a different location. In 2020, the competition was to be held in Orlando, FL but was cancelled due to the coronavirus. The top middle school students from each state come together to compete against each other for bragging rights. It’s an opportunity for healthy competition and some other fun activities. One of the activities is trading pins. Each team uses their creative side to come up with a unique custom pin that represents their state and their team. Once all the teams are together, the custom trading pins become an opportunity to get to know other students from around the country.
Each week on the mathcounts website they post a problem of the week. Typically, these are story problems that keep the kids challenged and in the groove. Here are just a few examples of story problems that have been presented previously.
Two stores sell watermelons. Bob’s Market sells watermelons for $3.89 each, regardless of size. Newtown Market sells watermelons for $0.20 per pound. Find the weight where the watermelons at each different store will cost the same. If the largest watermelon at Bob’s Market weighs 19 pounds, which store should you purchase the watermelon to get the best price?
Calculate the amount of time a sunscreen will protect you based on the SPF listed on the sunscreen. The protection time is proportional to SPF number. SPF 8 sunscreen will protect you for 30 minutes. Determine how long sunscreen labeled as 50 SFP will protect you.
During the summer soda sales increase dramatically due to the heat. A soda store wants to get a larger portion of sales so decides to initiate a special contest prior to summer. Here is how it works. A customer buys a soda, opens it and looks at the cap. If it says “Winner” under the cap you get a free bottle of soda. The odds of winning are 1 out of every 10. Crazy Luke purchased four sodas and 2won a free one with four of the caps. Determine the probability of winning. Also, calculate the number of sodas someone would have to purchase to achieve a 40% chance of winning one free soda.
Yes, every state has at least one competition location. Typically located at middle schools. You can go to the mathcounts.org website and search for your state and find the schools located nearest to you. Being from Utah I was surprised to see 10 competition sites within my state ranging from St. George in the southern part of the state all the way to Ogden in the northern part of the state. Those are just the competition regions, there are plenty more individual middle schools participating in this great program.
If you look a little deeper at who sponsors Mathcounts you will get a feel for how important math is in our society. Names like: Northrop Grumman, DODSTem, National Society of Professional Engineers, 3M and Texas Instruments are all sponsors in helping promote math learning in our schools. These companies and organizations need skilled employees that are good at math.
Mathcounts is helping prepare the next generation of math experts.