For students who excel at math, competitive math league is where they can can be superstar mathletes, challenging themselves, succeeding, achieving and meeting new goals.
If you think this sounds a lot like taking tests, or that time you got called on to go to the chalkboard in front of the class and figure out sine, cosine and tangent, well, you’re right.
And these kids love it.
“It’s interesting to see how math is used in different ways,” said Hononegah High School senior David Kitto. “There’s a challenge to it.”
Students participate in math club for same reasons students play basketball or football, said Sue May, Boylan Catholic High School math coach.
“It’s what they’re good at,” May said. “Math is their thing. These students want to test their skills against others.”
And just like sports, where students talk about the game on the sidelines and give high-fives, academic competitors have fun, too, May said.
“They get really excited when they get questions right,” she said. “If they get it wrong they talk about how they could have figured it out differently.”
It may not be for all students, but it’s a perfect fit for some.
Boylan has about 30 students involved each year. Hononegah has nearly 60.
Hononegah hosts an annual tournament, which was Jan. 25. Eleven schools sent teams.
The Northern Illinois Association of Teachers of Mathematics tends to host another invitational each year. Then, there’s the regional, hosted by the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics and held Feb. 22 at Rock Valley College.
Unless a student advances to state, that’s it for the season – two, maybe three meets.
That’s not enough for some students.
“These students obviously have talent in the math area, and they take great pride in their studies,” said Hononegah math coach Janet Kagan. “To do well and be recognized for your studies and your hard work … is positive affirmation for all the work that they’ve done.”
Kitto is studying AP Calculus and AP Statistics this year. He’s been on the math team since his sophomore year.
“I like the parts when we get to work as a team,” Kitto said. “There’s satisfaction in getting it right.
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