Math teams invade and conquer the Perennial Math Competition

Students are teaming up for math competitions across the District. Math Olympiads, MathCounts, and Math Problem Solvers—all very mathletic efforts to beef up problem solving skills—and are being used to enrich math instruction in the classroom and outside of it.



An example of the recent interest in math, GMSD teams showed up in droves to last weekend’s Perennial Math Problem Solving Competition based out of Hunstville, Alabama. The organization provides regional math competitions both virtually and in person. “Math is COOL and our goal is to stimulate enthusiasm for problem solving. As students meet the challenges in our competitions, creativity and strategies for problem solving will surely grow,” explains the website about their purpose behind hosting the events.

"The competition this year was held at Christian Brothers University and attracted many private and optional schools," reported one parent. In addition, Farmington Elementary sent seven teams, Dogwood sent seven teams and Houston Middle sent three teams. Students take an individual test made up of 15 challenging problems and are ranked by score. Then, each team made of five members completes a group test of 10 problems. Individual and team scores are then combined to produce overall team rankings.



Houston Middle School hosts MathCounts as a weekly after school club offering. Just like the football team, students must go through a “tryout” which consists of a math trial. The top 10-12 students are then selected as the competing team with the rest being classified as alternates. Each year under Karla Templeton’s wing (this is her second year to helm the club), that number has increased. “I never realized how many math competitions were available throughout the school year,” says Templeton. Because different competitions include unique parameters for team size, Templeton would like to see MathCounts opened to any students of interest.

Over the weekend, the current HMS mathematical dream team fared very well at the Perennial Math Problem Solving Competition. Two students, George Zhang and Ayaka Kimura placed first in the individual categories for their grade levels. “George was mistakenly given the 7th/8th level test and yet he still won answering 14 out of 15 questions correctly,” Templeton adds to the already impressive roster of wins. Round that out with a 7th grade team first place win over St. Dominic and St. Agnes—and you have the makings of three very prestigious teams.


George Zhang takes the first place prize for his grade level.

Dogwood Elementary, who is relatively new to the competitive math scene, dominated the third grade category. Their team took a towering lead to the first place ranking, while four of their team members (Niyantha Kaushik, Ella Buffington, Rohan Kumar, Lillian Wu) also tied for third place for individual results. Fifth grader Logan Wu also pulled out an exciting third place win in the individual results.
Farmington Elementary, who also sent 7 teams, dominated the competition with 8 students placing in the individual rankings (Hunter Cowles, George Fontana, Bryan Ding, Krishnav Manga, Tamanna Nair, Ethan Assad, Henry Tate, Nitin Nagarajan) and six of their seven teams placing in the team results. In third grade, FES earned both second and third place (only being defeated by GMSD’s own DES). In fourth grade, FES teams occupied both first and second places. In fifth, FES teams took first place as well as third place.





Susan Rodgers, a parent who attended the Saturday event told us, “There was another parent (I don't believe from GMSD), and she wanted to know what our teachers did to get so many winners”.

We caught up with Jennifer Harlan and Jessica White, the two teacher sponsors from Farmington to find out. “It began as something to encourage our top math students to push themselves,” says Harlan. White and Harlan adopted preparation for these math competitions into their APEX curriculum and the results have yielded not only wins but also positive changes in the classroom. “Perennial offers such great material in preparation for the competition,” Harlan says about the activities now available to early finishers or for those who want more math work to take home. “Problem solving has been such a good focus for these children. We are teaching them to take risks—that it’s okay to fail and then learn from those mistakes.”

Click here to view the Individual Results or the Team Final Results. Or, click here to view a full photo album of the winners!
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