Math competition no problem for MMS students

Team headed for state MathCounts meet in March

Marshall Middle School math team members, including (clockwise from left) Katelyn Moberg, Clara Purrington, Nathan Larsen and Lauren Paulson, were ready to compete at the Southwest Chapter MathCounts Competition this month. A total of five MMS students will be advancing to the state MathCounts competition in March.

MARSHALL — They get up early in the morning and solve math problems for fun. And the efforts of students on the Marshall Middle School math team have paid off – a group of team members are headed for the state MathCounts competition in the Twin Cities in March.

Learning new math skills and ways to solve problems was one of the fun things about being part of the team, students said.

“For me, it’s the satisfaction of seeing how things come together,” said MMS student Nathan Larsen. The team is always learning about something new, he said.

“I also love learning new things,” said Clara Purrington. She remembered feeling excited learning new math strategies when she started competing with the team in sixth grade. “I thought, ‘I need to keep going with this,'” she said.

A group of math team members, along with coach Tara Ryks, talked about their season with the Marshall School Board this week, as well as with the Independent.

The MMS math team includes students in grades 6-8, Ryks said.

“For me and some of the other people on the team, I think we always had an interest in math,” said student Lauren Paulson. She and some of her teammates have been competing together since they were in sixth grade.

This year, about 24 students were on the math team, Ryks said. “We usually start up at the end of October and run through early February,” she said.

Students meet once a week at 7:15 a.m. – or even earlier – to learn new math strategies and solve problems together, Paulson said.

“Each week, two students take turns bringing doughnuts to provide for the math team,” she said.

Katelyn Moberg said the team competes in five virtual meets through the Minnesota Junior High Math League, and then they have an in-school competition to help determine which 15 students will go to the Southwest Chapter MathCounts Competition.

The regional MathCounts competition was held earlier this month. The MMS team placed first overall, and a total of eight students were recognized for top individual honors. Five students advanced to the state competition: Larsen, Moberg, Paulson, Purrington, and Emily Rosenboom.

Larsen and teammate Moberg both competed at the state MathCounts tournament last year, as well.

“It was amazing,” Moberg said. Besides the math competition, students also enjoyed a supper with a pasta bar, and did some fun group contests focused on engineering. Moberg said last year, students teamed up with kids from other schools to build catapults.

The state competition will include two individual rounds of math problems, one team round, and a timed “countdown round,” Ryks said.

Competing in the countdown round could be stressful, students said.

“You’re trying to figure out how to do a problem in like, 10 seconds,” Larsen said.

Moberg said it would probably be less stressful this year, now that she had been to state before.

Ryks said it’s been fun to work with the math team and co-coach Samantha Tauer.

“It’s a total blast,” she said. The students are some of the hardest-working kids at MMS, she said.


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