Three hundred-twenty students from 11 area schools participated in Mu Alpha Theta’s 16th annual Middle School Math Tournament, held February 22 on the St. Joseph’s Academy campus. Participants enjoyed an evening of competition and fun planned and hosted by members of SJA’s math club.
The evening’s activities included free-response and multiple-choice tests, estimation contests and a relay race featuring balloons stuffed with math problems. Club members began preparing for the tournament months ago, writing tests, securing prizes and planning for the logistics of having hundreds of youngsters on campus.
Senior Parker Wilson is president of Mu Alpha Theta. “I enjoyed seeing the kids have fun and how excited they were to be there, especially during awards,” she said.
St. Jude won the sweepstakes award as the top finisher. Other participating schools were St. Theresa, St. Alphonsus, St. Thomas More, Our Lady of Mercy, St. Jude, St. Jean Vianney, Most Blessed Sacrament, St. Aloysius, Sacred Heart, St. George and and Holy Family.
Senior Amelia Dittmar, a two-year club officer and tournament planner, said she especially enjoys seeing the pride exhibited by participants when they solve a difficult math problem or win an award. “It is very rewarding to know that they enjoy coming to SJA and that they have a good time meeting new friends while gaining math skills,” she said. “I think the most important thing about engaging young kids in math is that they learn that mastering a skill can be fun and engaging.”
Senior Adeline Roemer said she has fond memories of participating in the Middle School Math Tournament as a student at Our Lady of Mercy. “I remember how excited we were to develop our math skills to prepare for this event,” she said. “Having so many SJA students willing to volunteer at the tournament on a Friday evening left such a good impression on us as middle schoolers and inspired us to pursue math further once reaching high school, specifically at SJA. Being able to see the other side as a high school student really brought the effectiveness of this event full circle for me and so many of my classmates who remember this event from middle school.”
Senior Annie Broussard said club officers and steering committee members worked hard to ensure a successful event for all participants. “I think it’s important to engage the middle school kids in math because I think they should know that enjoying math is an amazing thing,” she said. “When I was in middle school, it wasn’t necessarily a normal thing to like math and go to tournaments like these. I hope this tournament allows the middle schoolers to embrace what they are good at.”
Steering committee member and junior Shreya Reshamwala said the enjoyment of the middle school students was extremely gratifying. “My favorite part was seeing the expressions and excitement of the participants during the tournament: taking the tests, running during the relay and receiving the awards,” she said. “Knowing how exciting the middle school math tournament was for me when I was a participant years ago, I loved to see our hard work culminate in such a successful tournament and bring happiness to all those participants. Because of competition math like this, I grew to love mathematics. Being a member of Mu Alpha Theta means that I am part of the mission to set the foundations for the subject I love for the girls and boys who will one day take my seat at the table. Of course, planning how many pizzas to order or how many tests needed to be printed can be fun, but the knowledge that I can be part of the reason why the middle schoolers find their new passion is immensely gratifying and makes the whole challenge of hosting the tournament worth it.”
Jamal Tajdaran is moderator of Mu Alpha Theta.
Mindy Averitt Brodhead
Photos courtesy of Tiffany Tran and Lily Abadie