It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in Colorado. The Broncos were playing the Kansas City Chiefs. So what a surprise to find 30 elementary and middle school students huddled together at a local public library doing extra math homework with the help of four older students.
They were tackling questions like these:
• “The product of two positive whole numbers is 2005. If neither number is 1, what is the sum of the two numbers?”
• “A particular convex polygon with seven sides has exactly one right angle. How many diagonals does this seven-sided polygon have?”
“It’s nice – kids getting together to do math,” said Laasya Gaddipati, a sixth grader at Cherry Creek Academy.
“It’s challenging,” added Samantha Shellman, an eighth grader at the Challenge School.
A challenge is what most of these students are looking for and they find it in the Denver Math Club, a group founded one year ago by three students from Cherry Creek High School – sophomores Avi Swartz and Andrew Ying and freshman Isani Singh – along with Anjalie Kini, an eighth grader at the Challenge School.
The club meets once a month at different libraries and is open to any elementary or middle school student who’d like to learn more about math in general, and the Mathcounts competition in particular.
The Mathcounts Foundation is a national non profit organization that strives to engage middle school students of all ability and interest levels in fun, challenging math programs. It sponsors the annual Mathcounts competition, a "bee-style" contest for middle school students who have a talent and passion for math. All of the founders of the Denver Math Club participated in the Mathcounts competition.
“It’s a lot more than just a math competition,” said Isani Singh. “You make friends, you make connections.”
“You meet people from all over who share the same interests,” added Anjalie Kini.
The math club leaders would like to get more students involved in the Mathcounts program, which provides scholarships and opens doors to academic and professional opportunities in mathematics.
But competition aside, the older students say it’s very rewarding to work with the younger students.
“It’s a fun thing, helping them grow, developing their strengths,” said Avi Swartz, who has always been interested in math and hopes to pursue a career in biomathematics. That field focuses on the application of mathematics to biology and seeks to help find cures for diseases, among other things.
“It’s a great feeling, knowing I’ve helped someone and they succeeded because of it,” said Andrew Ying, who would like to study science or computer science at a top-tier university like Stanford.
For more information about the Denver Math Club, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Mathcounts, visit www.mathcounts.org.
--Posted Sept. 18, 2014.