Media-Providence Friends School might have been the smallest of the 9 schools competing at the 2013 Delaware County regional Math Counts Competition at Garnet Valley Middle School this February, but it was by no means the least (and by many accounts, it had the loudest cheering section!) The 4-member competition Math Club team, made up entirely of seventh graders – Cole Gaboriault, Gia Matika, Janet Kelsey and Dan Marcolongo -- placed 5th amongst a field of much larger public middle school clubs. Joined by fellow Club members Tracey Gibbs, Zach Dainton, Quinn Guthrie, Lucy Jones, Nyla Arrington, Kennedy Riley and Farid Stephens who participated in individual challenges, they faced schools that had seven or eight times as many students in a single grade as MPFS has in its entire middle school!
Sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the competition features three rounds of tests during the course of an hour and a half. The Sprint Round includes 30 word problems which must be answered in 40 minutes by each team member individually. Likewise, the Target Round includes 4 sets of 2 word problems which must be answered independently by each participant in 6 minutes. Finally, the Team Round features 10 world problems that the team must solve collectively in 20 minutes. At the conclusion of the Rounds, individual and team scores are calculated to determine rankings.
Both the team and Math Club Advisor Roger Sternfeld, were quite pleased by their performance. Teacher Roger, Middle School Math teacher and Math Coordinator for the entire school, remarked, "Seven of our eleven team members were new to Math Club this year, and our Team Round competitors were all Seventh Graders, so their showing was pretty remarkable given their experience relative to the other schools who were competing. It's been great to watch all the Club members grow in their problem-solving abilities this year. I’m excited to see what’s ahead!"
MPFS' math program emphasizes intellectual curiosity and abstract thinking skills. As an independent school, MPFS has the ability to choose the best parts of different math programs/curricula to teach students. Among other resources, in any given year the mix might include Singapore Math, Visual Math, Connected Math, Making Math Real, Khan Academy, and Holt's Algebra. Beginning in the 7th grade, the program is completely individualized, with students working at their own pace to gain mastery in more advanced concepts. This model is known as the "Flipped Mastery Class" in which students tackle concepts -- sequentially -- at home and then come to class the following day ready to work and/or seek one-on-one support from the teacher as needed. They move on to subsequent concepts only after assessments prove their mastery of the current topic.
Do you have what it takes to be an MPFS Math Club member? Well, first, you'd have to dedicate one lunch a week to practicing. Plus, you'd have to be able to solve a problem like this in under 3 minutes: "For how many positive, three-digit integers is one of the digits equal to the sum of the other two digits?"
Media-Providence Friends School is a 136 year-old Quaker day school for students aged 3 through 8th grade located in the heart of Media Borough. Learn more at www.mpfs.org.