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6th Annual MC2 McPherson College Math Competition Attracts 440 High School Students

posted Dec 02, 2011 in CAMPUS EVENTS

The basketball court was filled to the edges with more than 440 “Mathletes” from 24 area high schools competing at the 6th annual “MC2: McPherson College Math Competition” Nov. 30.

When the competition first started, Dr. Michael Reynolds, professor of mathematics, said they were concerned about getting 50 high school students to attend. Participation has exploded since then: this year topped even last year’s mark of 400 students.

“This is pretty major,” Dr. Reynolds said. “It’s great to see math attracting this many students.”

This year’s theme was “Can’t touch this” – referring to the graph of a function with a curving line that approaches zero but never actually touches it. That brand of math humor was present throughout the day with teams during the group portion of the competition sporting names such as “Secant Destroy”, “Charlie’s Angles”, “How’s My Deriving?” and “Apple 3.14” (“Apple Pi”, for those keeping score).

The group portion tends to be the most popular part of the competition – with rowdy teams of four collaborating to answer the questions. The morning is taken up with the significantly quieter but equally important individual portion.

Trent Horton, a junior at Buhler High School, was participating in the competition for his third year. He took first place among the freshman his first year and fifth place among sophomores last year.

“I think the competition is set up really well,” Horton said. “I like the group competition. It can get pretty intense sometimes.”

Andrew Kjellin, a senior at Marion High School, said he enjoyed meeting and socializing with students interested in math from other Kansas schools, as well as being able to compete against others in math.

“It makes it more fun,” Kjellin said. “I get bored doing homework – it makes it more interesting knowing that you got it right and someone else got it wrong.”

While students took the individual portion of the test, Dr. Mark Malaby, master’s in education director, spoke to the school sponsors and encouraged them to keep students interested in school and math by focusing on the learning, rather than the grades on paper.

“If you have students who say, ‘I hate math,’ you can pull them back in,” he said.

Brian Lightner, math teacher at Peabody-Burns High School, brought 12 students to the competition for the first time. He hoped the experience would help his students interested in math to realize that they’re not unusual and that math is enjoyable.

“Sometimes they surprise themselves,” Lightner said. “I don’t put any expectations on them – just come and have fun.”

Tammy Streit, math teacher at Southeast of Saline High School, said she appreciated how the competition could help make students aware of people’s intelligence in the wider world.

“We’re a small school, and you can be really good at math there, but when you compete with some of the larger schools, it can be an eye-opener.”

Candace Mahoney, math teacher at Salina High School South, said she enjoyed the festive atmosphere which helped students realize just how much fun mathematics can be.

“It’s a good day for students to go out and apply their skills and see how successful they can be,” she said.

Before the announcement of the day’s winners, President Michael Schneider told the high school students that he didn’t grow up appreciating math, but he certainly did once he started his first job.

“If you want to sit at the big table, you have to understand numbers,” he said. “And you have to be willing to understand numbers.”

The winners of the MC2 McPherson College Math Competition are as follows:

12th Grade:
-First Place (and overall individual winner): Sang Soo Jeon, Sacred Heart High School
-Second Place: Kaley Kinnamon, McPherson High School
-Third Place: Chris Mayo, Clay Center Community High School
-Fourth Place: Anthony Gutsch, Herington High School
-Fifth Place: Quinton Church, Minneapolis High School

11th Grade:
First Place: Sarah Ullom-Minnich, Moundridge High School
Second Place: David Jantz: Newton High School
Third Place: Jacob Simon, Trinity Catholic Junior/Senior High School (Hutchinson)
Fourth Place: Casey Gregory, McPherson High School
Fifth Place: Mark Kreider, Newton High School

10th Grade:
First Place: Brett Nurnberg, Southeast of Saline High School
Second Place: Kevin Kraus, Salina High School South
Third Place: Kylie Mauch, Salina High School Central
Fourth Place: Cody Ptacek, Southeast of Saline High School
Fifth Place: Hai Nguyen, Nickerson High School

9th Grade:
First Place: Riley Burghart, McPherson High School
Second Place: Bailey Waters, Salina High School South
Third Place: Brenden Miller, Trinity Catholic Junior/Senior High School (Hutchinson)
Fourth Place: Maya Katherineberg, Salina High School Central
Fifth Place: Cade Graber, Moundridge High School

Team Winners:
First Place: Sinusoid Infection, Moundridge High School (Todd Beyer, R.J. Clark, Sarah Ullom-Minnich and Cooper Wedel)
Second Place: We Real Dece, Newton High School (Erin Bergen, Nat Dick, Mark Kreider, Austin Regier)
Third Place: a”(t)s, McPherson High School (Brendon Blake, Sidney Boswell, Cassie Golden, Casey Gregory)
Fourth Place: SHHS #2, Sacred Heart High School (Sang Soo Jeon, Terrill Leaton, Joshua Martin, Jacob Vandervoordt)
Fifth Place: Nerds R Us, Southeast of Saline High School (Brett Nurnberg, Vaughn Plumer, Cody Ptacek, Jim Weller)

Best Team Name
-Secant Destroy: Bennington High School
-Logged and Loaded: Minneapolis High School
-How’s My Deriving? : Sterling High School

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