Whitworth students show Math is Cool

by Sandra Tully

The Whitworth campus hosted crowds of fourth graders during the Math is Cool event on Friday April 20. The tournament lasted more than four hours, challenging students with a range of math questions at the fourth grade level. Whitworth helped with smaller schools like Arcadia Elementary and Lake Spokane. Whitworth math professor Martha Gady, who helped run the event, has been involved since her children were competitors. Whitworth became a backdrop for fourth graders when there proved to be too many entrants for other schools to handle.

“This year there were too many fourth graders for Mt. Spokane so they took the bigger schools and we took the smaller schools like Kettle Falls,” Gady said.

The competition consisted of individual tests that had both multiple choice and open-ended problems.Group tests consisted of open-ended questions, relays, pressure rounds and college bowl rounds. Training for the event ranged from last minute to year round.

“Different schools do different things,” Gady said. “Some take it very seriously. One of the schools has a Math is Cool coach who is paid like an athletic coach and teaches year round.”

Whitworth students volunteered to help run the event for the young mathematicians. Students made up 28 proctors, nine runners, six greeters and six sellers. Junior Tanner Tyson worked as a proctor during the competition.

“I’m majoring in elementary education and I thought it would be a good thing to help out in a competition that involved math and young students,” Tyson said.

Each grade school was allowed to bring up to six teams. There were four students per team.  Calculators and other electronic devices were not allowed during the contest. Parents were allowed in the room after the first break unless the proctor did not want them in the room.

Proctors received special training for the competition. Students were advised on how to administer the test, what to do if problems arrived among parents and coaches, and how to work electronic devices for timed events. Proctors were also in charge of disqualifying any student if he or she displayed unsportsmanlike behavior. Tyson was pleased with how the children and parents handled themselves.

“Everyone was great,” Tyson said. “Coaches that sat in were very cooperative. Students were very well behaved. It was really fun.”

The event ended with a closing ceremony for test results and awards. Winners of the event will go on to compete at a state final held in Moses Lake. This was the first year that Whitworth has hosted any of the schools involved on its campus, but with the positive feedback from students and participants, it may not be the last.

Contact Sandra Tully at stully15@my.whitworth.edu.

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