If you can catch five fish in an hour, and your friend can catch seven fish in an hour, how many fish do you have after three and a half hours?
This is just one of the questions students competing in the state Math is Cool Master’s competition had to answer with no scratch paper or calculators in 30 seconds.
For the sixth-grade Math is Cool team at Horizon Middle School, they knew the answer was 42 fish. In fact, the team managed to squeak out a three-point victory to take home the state championship.
“There was like, tons of questions,” said Tyler Adams, one of the four members of the team.
David Thompson, the parent-coach of the group, said this is the first time in recent memory a team from Central Valley schools has won the state championship. While Math is Cool is open to students from the fourth through the 12th grade, many high schoolers find other activities to occupy their time.
For the team of Tyler, Zayn Abou-Harb, Blake Tellinghusen, Jacob Brown and alternate Fraser Robertson, four of them have been on the same team since fourth grade. They want to be on this team as long as they can.
Some of them said they like that math has a right answer, that it’s not a subjective subject. All of them want to incorporate math into their lives when they grow up. Zayn wants to be a doctor; Fraser some kind of engineer. Blake wants to be an architect. Jacob wants to be a sports statistician for the NFL, while Tyler isn’t sure, but probably wants to be an engineer.
“It’s hard to find a job that doesn’t revolve around math,” Zayn said.
There are individual and team components. While the team members all had similar scores in the individual competition – Zayn had the highest score of the group – it was the team competition they won, which made it that much sweeter.
“We all did good, not just one person,” said Zayn.
Thompson said the students start meeting in October and meet once a week for an hour or two. A larger group of 18 helped push them into third place at the regional competition to qualify for state.
“I didn’t even think we would place,” Tyler said. “Some teams were really good.”
The boys are sharp kids. They are all on the honor roll and are involved in sports such as basketball, soccer, skiing, snowboarding and golf. They are all pretty competitive, too.
“They like to be right,” Thompson said.
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