Doing more math before 9 a.m. than most people do all day, as their shirts say, adds up to a hugely successful year for the Hastings Math Counts team.
The team took first place at the regional competition in February and third place at the state competition in March — a first for an Upper Arlington Schools team, believes Hastings teacher Lauren Piunno, who coaches the team along with Kelli Leinbaugh.
“From what we have gathered with talking to teachers at the two (UA) middle schools, this has never happened,” Piunno said. “This is a huge accomplishment, and Kelli and I are so proud of the students and all of their hard work.”
The four students who represented the team at states were: eighth-graders Evan H., Hera C. and Alex G. and sixth-grader Kevin W.. Each also competed individually at regionals and states, with Evan placing second at regionals and 10th at states; Hera, third and 26th (tie); Alex, sixth and 21st; and Kevin, 27th and 26th (tie).
“This group of students is very motivated and seems to genuinely enjoy math,” Piunno said.
“They go above and beyond to practice and help one another.”
As the competitions got closer, the students stepped up their practice schedule, adding time at school during study hall and at home to their before-school practices on Tuesday mornings. They would practice individual challenges such as the countdown round as well as the team round, in which they are given 20 minutes to answer 10 questions.
“I think the neatest thing about this time was watching what they did after our team practice test was over,” Piunno said. “I would give them the answers, and instead of accepting that they got a question wrong, they would work together and figure out why they got it wrong and work through how to get it right.”
As part of their preparation for the state competition, some classmates challenged the Math Counts team — whose members gladly accepted. The entry fee for the Hastings math challenge: a canned food item.
The team shared at a meeting of the Upper Arlington Schools Board of Education: “It was great for the students to see what Math Counts is all about and watch in amazement as they sometimes answered questions prior to the question being fully read.”
During that competition, the team added, their opponents gained “members, calculators and respect for the mathletes.”
The final tally: 33 to 4, in favor of the Math Counts team, and 87 canned food items for Neighborhood Services.