Students Prepare for Mathcounts Chapter Competition
Mathcounts encourages a love of math among middle school students, and the practice competitions help acknowledge academic achievements.

Students Prepare for Mathcounts Chapter Competition

Countdown Scaled
The 6th-8th grade countdown winners were, front row from left: Levi Edwards, Mitchell Golz, Iley Ryckman, Madden Buisker, Cohwen Heimann. Back row from left: Lincoln Buisker, Alex Ricci, Noah Schuster, Lokith Gundewar, Evan Smith, Holgate.

Middle school students in Aberdeen and surrounding areas have been working hard to prepare for the Northeastern South Dakota Mathcounts Chapter Competition, which took place on February 14 this year.

Mathcounts is a national program and first came to Aberdeen in the 1980s. Rose Kraft, a teacher at Roncalli, was the first one to sign her students up for Mathcounts. In the beginning, only seventh and eighth graders competed in Mathcounts competitions. A few years into the program, sixth graders were able to compete as well.

The program started slowly as they got in contact with more schools in the area. Today, there are 11 schools in the Northeastern South Dakota chapter of Mathcounts.

Staff at 3M Aberdeen have been supporters of the program since the beginning.

“A lot of 3M guys are engineers, so they get how important this is,” Jason Unruh said. Over the years, staff at 3M have organized many of Mathcounts’ practice rounds and have helped fund the program.

Any middle school student is welcome to join Mathcounts. Some schools do have additional requirements for joining, such as a written test.

Each year, there are about eight competitions that the students compete in, and nearly all of the participating schools have a turn hosting. Unruh and Adam Buckhouse are coordinators that work with the schools, and they make sure that at least one of them attends each competition.

“We wanted to give students practice, so the practice competitions started,” Jerry Sandmeier said. “Teachers would also come to the plant and brainstorm ideas with us.”

Students compete individually and in teams at Mathcounts.

After competing on a local level, the students advance on to the Northeastern SD Chapter Competition, which is held at Northern State University each year. The chapter competition qualifies three teams and four individual students to move on to the state competition at South Dakota State University. Sandmeier said that the top four individuals from the state competition go on to form the national team.

“These are some really gifted math students,” Sandmeier said. “These kids sign up to do math, and you don’t always see that.”

The sentiment among Mathcounts coaches is the same – it is just as important to recognize academic achievements as much as athletics and other school programs. Mathcounts is just one way that students can be rewarded for their academic efforts.

“In a small school, there aren’t always as many opportunities for kids,” said Northwestern Area School District teacher Allison Schmitz. “Mathcounts helps challenge kids.” //