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By the Numbers: USU Hosts Statewide Math Competition

Thursday, Mar. 21, 2013

public school students at math competition at USU

Students from John F. Kennedy Junior High in West Valley City, Utah, were among more than 2,400 participants at the 2013 Utah State Math Contest. The March 11 gathering, for grades 7-12, was hosted by USU's Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

USU student volunteers at math competition

USU students Olivia Leonhardt, a mechanical engineering major, and Robert Carpenter, a biological engineering major, were among more than 100 Aggie volunteers who gave up a day of spring break to help with the annual event.

While most Aggies were enjoying some spring break rest and relaxation, Utah State University’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics welcomed more than 2,400 aspiring mathematicians to campus — 2,401 to be exact.

Math and Stats faculty, staff and students began preparations last fall for the 2013 Utah State Math Contest held March 11 at USU. This year’s contest marked the 14th year of the statewide competition for math students in grades 7-12.

“We’re very pleased with the turnout and enthusiasm of the student participants and their teachers,” said Richard Cutler, head of USU’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics. “We’re very grateful to the USU students, faculty and staff who worked hard throughout this academic year to make the gathering a success.”

Teachers Donna Hall and Andrea Payne of Park City, Utah, have been bringing their students to the competition for more than 10 years.

“At first, it was hard to recruit students but, after a couple of years, the excitement about the contest spread,” said Hall, who teaches at Park City High School. “Now, students hunt me down each fall to sign up for the competition.”

Payne, who teaches 8th and 9th grade mathematics at Treasure Mountain Junior High, said the competition gives students who enjoy math “a chance to shine.”

“Some of these students aren’t involved in athletics or other activities that give them a chance to show their skills,” she said. “This competition allows them to have some fun competing and get some recognition for their hard work.”

Hall said each year as the students are riding home on the bus from the competition, they’re talking about the contest’s math problems and how they solved them.

“They get really excited about math,” she said. “It’s fun to see them so engaged with learning.”

Student participant Kendra Kolasinski made her third visit to the annual contest this year. As team captain and a seasoned competitor, the ninth grader at Magna, Utah’s, Brockbank Junior High spent much of her time at this year’s competition reassuring and encouraging her younger teammates.

“It gets easier each year because you know what to expect,” said Kolasinski, who plans to pursue college studies in astrophysics and eastern European languages. “But the tests are very challenging.”

Contest participants started their day with a two-and-a half hour test — no calculators allowed — and completed the day with lunch and campus tours.

Sally Carhuaricra and Huy Tran, both students at John F. Kennedy Junior High School in West Valley City, Utah, said they were impressed with the campus.

“I think I’d like to go to Utah State,” Carhuaricra said.

“That’s what we want to hear,” said Nancy Smart, a staff member in USU’s Math/Stats department and a contest organizer. “These excellent quantitative-thinking students are the future engineers, physicists and mathematicians of the world. They’re exactly the kinds of students we want to attract to USU.”

This is USU’s second year in a three-year rotation to host the event. USU will host the 2014 competition and the contest will move to another Utah university for subsequent gatherings. Top 2013 contest finishers — winning individuals and teams — will be welcomed back to Logan for an April 19 awards banquet.

“This is always a lot of fun,” Smart said. “It gives us a chance to get to know these students better, meet their parents and encourage the students to consider study at Utah State,” Smart said.

Related links:

Contact: Nancy Smart, 435-797-0244,

Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517,

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