Several individuals, teams advance to state competition

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FARMINGTON — More than 20 students from Four Corners will go on to represent their schools in the 2018 New Mexico MathCounts competition after winning the regional competition this weekend.

The San Juan Chapter of the New Mexico Society of Professional Engineers hosted the regional competition on Saturday at McGee Park Convention Center. More than 20 local middle school students will advance to the state competition scheduled for March 18 at the University of New Mexico Centennial Engineering Center in Albuquerque.

Matt Cramer, president of the San Juan Chapter of the New Mexico Society of Professional Engineers, said some 45 students from six middle schools in Aztec, Bloomfield, Farmington and Gallup participated in the event.

Students who will advance include John Villarial of C.V. Koogler Middle School, Xenia Herrera of Mesa Alta Junior High School, and Connor Anderson, Kayla Michaels and Simon Ruybalid of Tibbetts Middle School, Cramer said. Four teams of four competitors from C.V. Koogler Middle School, Mesa Alta Junior High School, Rehoboth Christian School and Tibbetts Middle School will also compete in the state competition.

A MathCounts competition has both individual and team challenges where students must complete math problems under a time limit. Students are allowed to use calculators in two of the four challenges, and a final round is a jeopardy-style countdown competition, according to the website.

Cramer said the event is to math what a science fair is to science — an opportunity for students to take their learning beyond the typical curriculum.

“For the kids, it supplies them, first of all, with a way to enhance their mathematics skills, but it also serves as an additional challenge to what perhaps is beyond their regular school curriculum,” Cramer said. “It’s similar to a science fair or that type of thing. For kids that are really interested and looking for an additional challenge, they can get it through MathCounts.”

The MathCounts program holds middle school students to a high standard, Cramer said.

“The problems are more advanced than what you find in typical mathematics curriculum. In fact, about half of the questions I don’t think I could answer, and I’ve got a master’s degree in engineering,” Cramer said with a laugh, adding that “these kids really are amazing. For middle school kids, this is very impressive.”

Saturday’s event — which was sponsored by Navajo Transitional Energy Company, Geomat Inc., Souder Miller and Associates, Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, and United Field Services — is one of several MathCounts competitions in the state. More than two dozen schools from throughout New Mexico are participating in this year’s competition, according to the MathCounts website.

The national competition has been hosted by the National Society of Professional Engineers and its local chapters since 1983, according to the website. Cramer said the San Juan Chapter has hosted a local competition for at least 15 years.

More information is available at www.mathcounts.org.

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or mpetersen@daily-times.com.

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