Mr. Brown, math team ready for Stark State Math Competition

By Ellie Schiltz — The utterance of this humble four lettered word can send high school students into a tailspin of emotion, or rather a straight dive into a field of grievances. Math- one of the closest yet rather unwanted companions of students, a subject that starts in preschool and grows in size and intimidation synchronously with each passing grade. Yet despite the terror it strikes in the hearts of many, 24 GlenOak students under the guidance of teacher Matthew Brown have taken up the challenge of staring problems straight in the eye during Stark State College’s third annual high school math competition.

Tournaments of the mind are becoming popular activities as alternatives to traditional team sports. Steady participation in clubs such as Academic Challenge and Science Club prove there is a demand for intellectually stimulating extracurriculars, and the degree of interest in the Stark State Math Competition further proves the need for competitive cerebral sport.

“I enjoy working with students who can handle this challenge and readily volunteer,” Brown said. “It’s good for some students because not everyone can kick a football or be athletic. It satisfies their competitive streak.”

Thirteen Stark State-affiliated high schools -those which offer College Credit Plus courses- are invited to participate and display their scholarly abilities with pencil and paper.

“Students will have to work with high-level algebra, high-level geometry and high-level precalculus,” Brown said. “It’s split into individual and group work, first with 20 questions in an hour, and then four questions in 45 minutes done as a team. Also, there are no calculators involved.”

Senior and engineering student Kade Allison was able to recognize a pull towards mathematics at a young age.

“I figured out I was good at and enjoyed math when I scored a perfect on the OAA [Ohio Achievement Assessments] in the third grade,” Allison said. “I enjoy math because there’s a very logical way to solve everything.”

Allison and his teammates will be able to push their skills and knowledge to new limits throughout the tournament.

“I’m nervous about the competition,” senior John Bodenschatz said. “Everyone there is extremely talented at mathematics. Fortunately, we have a strong team of seniors with lots of high-level experience including calculus and statistics.”

The group has an advanced yet diverse membership, and every newcomer is just as valuable as the veterans. However, the idea of competing against other intellectually robust teams is still a daunting one.

“This is my first year doing it. I’m nervous about letting Mr. Brown down,” Allison said. “But I think I analyze problems from different perspectives, so I’m hoping that helps.”

Mr. Brown and his team will take part in the competition on Saturday, Nov. 5.

[Updated Aug. 19, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]