Middle School Students Showcase Math Skills at Indiana MATHCOUNTS

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Students checking answers at MATHCOUNTS

Comparing Notes: Students check their answers after completing the sprint round of this year's competition in the fieldhouse area of the Sports and Recreation Center.

The four middle-school students who will represent Indiana at the national MATHCOUNTS championships were selected on campus as the Department of Mathematics hosted the state's MATHCOUNTS competition on March 12.

This distinguished honor went to Jenny Zhao, Brian Liu, and Iris Yan, all eighth graders at Indianapolis' Sycamore School, and Adam Earnst, an eighth grader at West Lafayette Junior High School.

"That's a big responsibility because last year Indiana was the champion at the national MATHCOUNTS," notes Rose-Hulman mathematics professor Wayne Tarrant. He adds that Indiana also has produced the national MATHCOUNTS' individual champion in three of the past nine years.

All four members of this year's Indiana team say they are excited for the opportunity to test their skills at the national championships on May 7-10 in Washington, D.C.

"It was really a tight competition," says Zhao, who had the highest overall scores at the state event.

Earnst had the day's second-highest score. Earning a spot on the state team is "really an honor I was not expecting," he says. "It was stressful, but it was worth it."

Indiana's best middle-school scholars were determined by testing skills in three challenging rounds, featuring a variety of written problems. Then, the top 24 finishers competed in the high-pressure, game show-type Countdown Round.

In the school category, Sycamore School took first place after having three of the top four individual finishers. Team members were eighth grader Varun Chheda along with classmates Zhao, Liu, and Yan. The team was coached by Trent Tormoehlen and Bob Fischer.

Placing second was West Lafayette Junior High School, with eighth graders Yuto Nishida and Earnst, and seventh graders Song Kim and Ranger Kuang. The team was coached by Pam Porterfield and Jonathan Polk.

Clay Middle School of Carmel finished third. Team members were eighth graders Jerry Wang, Dylan Zhou, and Christopher Zou, and sixth grader Jacob Zhang. The team was coached by Stacy Arnold and Michele Grace.

Creekside Middle School of Carmel placed fourth. Team members were eighth graders Suhas Chundi, Angela Li, and Brian Zhang, and seventh grade student Noah Tan. The team was coached by Karmen Hamachek.

Seventh-place honors went to Northridge Middle School of Middlebury. Team members were eighth graders Ashley Brewster, Joey Garberick, Avery Mantyla, and Wilson Wang. The team's coach was Robert Nisen.

Carmel Middle School was sixth with eighth graders Justin Pallotta, Jeffrey Tan, and Harry Wang, and sixth grader Jack Liu. The team was coached by Ann Beyer and Sita Pieters.

Organized by the Indiana Society of Professional Engineers, the Indiana MATHCOUNTS competition included more than 200 of the state's best middle school math scholars from 48 schools. While many students shine on the athletic field, in the band, or on the stage, MATHCOUNTS "is a way to give these kids an opportunity to be recognized for their talents," says Tarrant, co-coordinator of the event with Professor Elton Graves.