What is the 48th positive odd integer? If 95 didn’t jump to mind, you wouldn’t have made it far in Thurston County’s MATHCOUNTS competition this year.
It took just seconds for local mathletes from Jefferson Middle School to answer that and other challenging questions to win the county-wide contest held last month and advance to the state level. The event was 1 of 500 throughout the country.
MATHCOUNTS is a national middle school competitive mathematics program. It allows students the opportunity to compete in live, in-person contests against and alongside their peers. It promotes math achievement through a series of fun and engaging “bee” style competitions on the chapter, state, and national levels.
Jason Bruhn, an engineer at SCJ Alliance in Lacey, led the Thurston County contest held at Saint Martin’s University and has volunteered as the chapter coordinator for the past 20 years on behalf of the National Society of Professional Engineers.
“I loved math as a kid,” shares Jason. “I want to give back by supporting kids who have the same interest.” By hosting the competition in the Olympia area, more local students can participate. “Seattle is just too far for many of them to go,” he says.
Assisting Jason for the second year was SCJ Design Engineer Dan Phillips. He served as a proctor during the first three rounds, reading the instructions, keeping time, and monitoring the competitors. For the fourth round, he was the moderator. This included reading the problem out loud, calling on the first person to raise their hand, and telling them if their answer was correct or not.
“It’s really amazing how the top students are able to quickly solve challenging math problems,” he said.
Local participants in February’s Thurston County competition came from Jefferson, Aspire, Tenino, and Ocosta middle schools and included two homeschool students. The top team, from Jefferson Middle School, and four top individuals qualified to advance to the state competition. Winners at the state competition move on to nationals.