Students count the ways math is important -- Gazette.Net


What is the smallest possible cube that can be written as the sum of three consecutive integers?

There are 2 pints in 1 quart and 4 quarts in 1 gallon. How many pints are there in 2 1/2 gallons of milk? What is the greatest prime factor of 99?

Those questions — the answers to which are 27, 20 and 11, respectively — are just a sample of the problems presented during the annual MathCounts competition held Saturday morning at Governor Thomas Johnson Middle School in Frederick.

Nine county schools sent 110 students to face off in three rounds during the event.

Meredith Bertulaitis, an eighth-grader at Middletown Middle School, won first place in the event. It was the third time the Myersville resident took part in the competition, but the first time she advanced to the final round.

Moments after her win, Meredith received numerous congratulations and high-fives from teammates.

“It’s really cool [to win] because I have not been [in the countdown round] in the last two years,” she said. “There are a lot of really smart people here.”

Meredith said she has always enjoyed math.

“I like that you can always keep learning,” she said. “There is always more to figure out.”

Of the three rounds, the target round involves individual problem solving with 40 minutes to complete 30 problems with no calculator.

The sprint round allows students eight minutes to individually solve two problems without a calculator.

The team round gives competitors 20 minutes to solve 10 problems with help from teammates and calculators.

After three rounds, the top 18 students take part in the final countdown round. A one-on-one competition ensues, with five questions given and the winner moving on to the next round.

Governor Thomas Johnson Middle School’s Victor Lin took second place, while Keeshav Ramanathan of Urbana Middle School earned third place.

A team from Urbana Middle took top team honors, with a team from Governor Thomas Johnson Middle and a team from Windsor Knolls Middle earning second and third place, respectively.

Those who earned top honors will move on to the regional competition.

“The kids that come out, they are kids that really enjoy math,” said Joseph Daly, a math teacher at Thomas Johnson Middle and host for the competition.

Preparation for the contest begins in early September, with interested students meeting once a week to work on problems in a variety of different mathematical areas, including numbers, algebra and geometry.

Some come wanting to compete in the MathCounts contest, while others just want to hone their skills, Daly said.

Dave Erb, a seventh-grade math teacher at Urbana Middle, said he enjoyed seeing so many students get up early on a Saturday morning to do math problems.

Urbana had the highest number of students competing with 21.

The MathCounts program helps build confidence in students and allows them the opportunity to learn tricks and shortcuts on math problems, which will help them for years to come, Erb said.

Andrew Johnson has been involved with the MathCounts program for 10 years, first as a competitor for three years at Walkersville Middle School and now as a volunteer. He helped to grade the answered questions Saturday.

Johnson is now a nuclear engineering major at Georgia Tech University.

“I have a good friend who (volunteers),” he said. “We get to relive the middle school days.”

The skills he learned as a middle school student helped him keep his interest in math and achieve high scores on college-placement exams, Johnson said.