Sunday, March 11, 2012

Alex At The 2012 State MathCounts Competition

Song:  Motherland

Group:  Proud Music

Alex just joined his school's math club a couple of weeks ago.

Just last week...Alex's math club instructor asked if Alex would like to 
be part of their math team
 (they were going to the Nevada State MathCounts Competition...
a once a year event).

They had a vacancy and the instructor thought Alex would benefit from
the well as his being able to contribute to the team.

This was a series of 3 math rounds...
two individual and one team.

The first was the Sprint Round.
It was done individually...
30 problems in 40 minutes.

The second was the Target Round.
It was done individually...
4 pairs of problems timed at 6 minutes a pair.

The last was the Team Round.
This was done by the group...
10 problems in 20 minutes.

The scores were averaged and rankings were determined.

For the finale...
a timed head to head competition involving the top 8 contenders was conducted...
as determined by the top scores averaged from the Sprint and Target Rounds.

This was Alex's first time...
and most of the contenders were competition veterans.

Most were either in 7th or 8th grade.

Alex is in the 6th grade.

There were actually two simultaneous competitions...
one in Reno for the northern state...
one in Las Vegas for the southern state.

We had arrived early and were in the staging area.
Only the competitors were allowed in the testing area in the next room.
The whole front row was filled by the math team from the Davidson Academy.
The Coral Academy Of Science (Alex's school) was in the second row.
The remainder of the schools filled up the other rows.

They served sandwiches to everyone just before the final head to head competition.
The individuals to compete was still to be announced.

The Coral Academy 2012 MathCount Team.
The team instructor Emre Gul and his team.

Alex is large for his age...
he is 11.33 years old.

Alex received his competition certificate after the first 3 rounds.
We were still waiting for the head to head competition announcement.

Of the 8 top scoring individuals...
6 of them were from the Davidson Academy
(the Davidson Academy had fielded 10 members for the competition).

The other 2 had come from Coral Academy Of Science...
Alex was one of them.

The last portion (the head to head of the top 8 scoring individuals)
was open to the public.

Although Alex was eliminated in his competition...
he had done so well to be in the top 8 for Northern Nevada.

I must say that all of these children were phenomenal in their 
problem solving capabilities. 

For the team from Northern Nevada going on to the Nationals...
the Davidson Academy.

As Alex is only in the 6th grade.  
He still has another 2 years of competition possible.

He can only improve from here.

He said he really liked the competition and that he is looking forward
to competing in the future.

Another good day for Alex

(although he had inadvertently committed one faux pas during the competition...
and he had felt very badly about it - 
he hadn't listened to the instructions fully for the contestants...
and he was so excited that he had absentmindedly blurted out an answer while
two others were going head to head.
He was rather heavily scolded by the proctor...
but nothing can take away from the great job Alex had done).

Alex is still learning to observe his surroundings for cues as to 
what other children are doing or not doing...
and to listen fully to instructions instead of focusing too much on his objective.

It was a tough lesson for Alex.
I know he just wanted to show he could answer the problems.
His heart was in the right place...
but he also must learn to observe his surroundings...
to be constantly aware of the full situation and not just a portion.

He was so concerned that everyone thought that he had done it on purpose.

We knew the reason...
and we had told him we knew he hadn't done it on purpose.
However, we also told him it came about because he wasn't monitoring his surroundings.

When we got home...
he felt much better...
and he said he had really enjoyed the competition.

That is the fighting spirit I had wanted to see in him!

He knows that he will stumble in life.

He also knows that it is ok...
 so long as the problem is identified...and rectified.

We are so proud of Alex.

He continually accepts new and challenging learning opportunities.

He had also learned the far more valuable lesson of being more aware
of his surroundings, and to reason out the meanings of the actions...
and inactions, of others.


  1. Well done, Alex! Being one of the top 8 contenders in his first competition is outstanding!

    His faux pas, while painful for him, also shows the value of participating in these types of events. He needs this type of experience to expose the areas where he needs more work. I am sure he has learned a great lesson.

  2. Yes, while it was painful for us to watch...we knew it would help him in the future.

    His being in the top 8 (he placed 7th) meant he was square in the middle of the pack of children from the Davidson Academy, as he surpassed 5 of the 10 (the 8th place was also a Davidson Academy student and the other 4 didn't place).

    The speed of calculation in this last round was blistering. Some of the children were ringing the bell before the problem was fully read (although they could read it on the screen).

  3. That last round sounds like it was exciting to watch. Glad you got to see it.

    I'm sure it feels good to know that Alex held his own with the Davidson kids.

  4. Yes...and it is good to know that they know about Alex. He should be a force to be reckoned with next year with a lot more practice with those types of questions. While most of the other children had years of practice...Alex had about one week.

    He is looking forward to learning much more in order to do much better during next year's competition.

    It actually played out like the movie Rocky. Alex stood toe to toe with the champs. Although he lost...he earned their respect.

    Now, if we can actually pull off a Rocky II...we will have to see. In the meantime...back to training (Rocky theme in the background) :)

  5. I remember The Spelling Bee competition which was conducted by Japan Times the other day. I watched it on Ustream, but it was a little painful to keep watching when children were completely at a loss what to say. Some children seemed to hold back their tears. They must have studied hard, but I felt some of the questions (I mean "words") were too difficult for children.

    Oh, I have to get back to work. I have to work hard :D

  6. The poor children. Stage fright robbed them of their efforts. In time, they will realize that what they do matters far more than what people may think of them. Competition is a healthful event in a child's life. It helps them long as they have been adequately prepared.


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