Homer Alaska - Schools

Story last updated at 7:39 PM on Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Number know-how sends mathematicians to state

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff writer


Photo provided

Among the Homer mathematicians in the recent Math Counts competition in Anchorage were, from left, team coach Sara Reinert and Homer Middle School students Jarrod Gee, Austin McGregor, Mike Downing, Hunter Harris, Jonas Noomah, Patrick Latimer, August Kilcher, Jenna Dragoo, Kyle Carroll and Molly Mitchell.

What is the unit digit when five to the fourth power is multiplied out?

How many unique diagonals can be drawn in a five-sided convex polygon?

Think the questions are tough? Try answering them in less than 60 seconds.

That was the challenge facing a dozen students from Homer Middle School and the Homer Connections program that participated in the Math Counts competition in Anchorage recently.

The students' math know-how secured third place in the competition, which means the Homer team now goes on to the state competition in Fairbanks March 26-27.

"You have to know the vocabulary and how to interpret the questions," said Sara Reinert, who coaches the Homer students. "These kids' brains are really great. They're awesome."

The Homer team consisted of Homer Middle School students Jenna Dragoo, Patrick Latimer, Austin McGregor and Jonas Noomah. Participating individuals were HMS students Mike Downing, August Kilcher, Jarrod Gee, Molly Mitchell, Hunter Harris and Kyle Carroll and Connections students Aurora Waclawski and Jayce Miller.

Homer was the only Kenai Peninsula site to participate in Math Count competitions. All of the students from Homer scored in the top half of the 160 students participating, all of them, except Homer, from the Anchorage Math Counts chapter.

"Six of the kids scored in the top 25," said Reinert.

Math Counts is a national mathematics enrichment program aimed at middle school students.

"Partly, the theory is that it's the last time to hook some of these kids and get them really excited about math. Another part is that it's trying to make the academic aspect of it cool," said Reinert, who compared Math Counts to spelling and geography bees.

In March, each of the 50 states holds tournaments. This isn't the first time Homer students have participated in the state meet, but that doesn't mean smooth sailing between now and then. Practices will continue on Friday mornings and Wednesday afternoons.

The five-top scoring individuals in the state meet will represent Alaska in the national competition in Washington, D.C., May 5-8.

For more about Math Counts, visit www.mathcounts.org.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben. jackinsky@homernews.com.