Calculating competition


Photo by Emily Franke

Emily Franke

Photo by Emily Franke
Photo by Emily Franke
Crosstown rivals Hickman, Battle and RBHS will vie for the trophy Saturday in math competition
On Saturday, Jan. 17, math teams from all three Columbia Public Schools high schools will compete at RBHS for trophies, medals and ribbons. With past competition results in mind, math team coach Kevin Taylor expects good results for the RBHS team.
“Rock Bridge usually does better with the local competitions. Battle is very new so their team’s still getting built and Hickman and Rock Bridge have always back and forth beaten each other,” Taylor said. “I have expectations that Rock Bridge will come out on top in this, mainly because when Battle high school hosted last semester we were able to win first place there as well.”
Sophomore Boon Palipatana, who has participated in math competitions since fourth grade, joined math team because he loved what mathematics. Palipatana looks forward to improving his own performance and is excited to see if his team can bring home another first place trophy.
“It should be a fun competition, and mostly local teams will be there, so we’ll do our best to bring home the win,” Palipatan said. “In terms of preparation, we both prepare at our math team meetings and our all-star coach, Coach Taylor, gives us numerous resources, such as past tests, to prepare from.”
CPS began hosting competitions in Columbia to make it easier for the high schools to compete locally, Taylor said, and last year three schools from outside the district competed in the RBHS competition.
“ is a national organization that hosts competitions for middel and high school students,” Taylor said. “We typically travel to Kansas City and Saint Louis areas to do these competitions but more recently Columbia’s been hosting these competitions as well.”
Throughout the year, the math team competes in around five competitions. These competitions include several different tests, Taylor said, including individual and team efforts to complete questions correctly.
“We have a target test, which gives only eight questions where very specific skills are assessed and those are manually graded that’s followed up by a sprint test which has 30 questions in 60 minutes,” Taylor said. These individual tests are “followed up by a team event and even a relay test where they have to pass questions on to the next person and continue getting right answers to the end.”
In team competition questions are not answered one at a time, Taylor said. Instead, members work together collaboratively and submit the test for grading when time runs out.
At their bi-weekly Wednesday practices, members look at previous questions and upperclassmen share their expertise from past experience, Taylor said. Upperclassmen are needed to help out the younger members, he said, because so much of what’s in the competition is not taught in the classroom.
“I refer to these competitions often as just pure math, so you can’t just go in there and expect a geometry question or, ‘solve this algebra,’ it’s very pure,” Taylor said. Students can join the team “if [they’ve] found math interesting and [are] looking for something more challenging and different than what you have in a normal class.”
By Emily Franke