2/26/14 ‘Math counts’ at Hawfields Middle School

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Hawfields Middle School earns the “Best New Team” regional MATHCOUNTS competition for the North Piedmont Chapter last Saturday, Feb. 22, in Greensboro. Pictured at Hawfields on Monday are the seventh graders on the team with their teachers and principal: (l-r) Bailey Retherford, Megan Sikes, Jordan Young, Greg Hook (principal), Mason Covington, Nancy Trollinger (teacher), Caroline Smith (teacher), and Katie Evans.

Photos by Karen Carter/Mebane Enterprise

Hawfields Middle School earns the “Best New Team” regional MATHCOUNTS competition for the North Piedmont Chapter last Saturday, Feb. 22, in Greensboro. Pictured at Hawfields on Monday are the seventh graders on the team with their teachers and principal: (l-r) Bailey Retherford, Megan Sikes, Jordan Young, Greg Hook (principal), Mason Covington, Nancy Trollinger (teacher), Caroline Smith (teacher), and Katie Evans.

‘Math counts’ at Hawfields Middle School
By KAREN CARTER, Enterprise Editor, The Mebane Enterprise 2/26/14  
Reprinted with permission.


A group of dedicated seventh graders, an all girls’ team, studied math before and after school as well as during school hours to take home the coveted prize in the region of “Best New Team” in
MATHCOUNTS.

Hawfields Middle School took home the honors last Saturday, Feb. 22, at the North Piedmont Chapter of the competition at A & T State University in Greensboro.

Two mathematics teachers at Hawfields, Caroline Smith and Nancy Trollinger, and their assistant principal, former mathematics teacher Donna Westbrooks, coached the girls for personal growth and success in the competition series that is offered in middle schools in the United States. An all-volunteer program, said Trollinger, the founding sponsors are the CAN Foundation, the National Society of Professional Engineers, and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

A public school in Alamance-Burlington Schools winning among math academy schools, private and charter schools, virtual and homeschools, Trollinger said Hawfields Middle School scored the highest among new schools entering the competition to earn “Best New Team.”

The competition series for MATHCOUNTS is ideal for sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students who have a talent and passion for math and need to be challenged, said Trollinger.

The Hawfields Middle School MATHCOUNTS Club holds the trophy and takes home the “Best New Team” in the regional MATHCOUNTS competition last Saturday, Feb. 22, in Greensboro. Pictured at Hawfields on Monday are the seventh-grade winners: (front row, l-r) Bailey Retherford, Megan Sikes, and Jordan Young; and (back row, l-r) Mason Covington, Nancy Trollinger (teacher), Caroline Smith (teacher), and Katie Evans.  

The Hawfields Middle School MATHCOUNTS Club holds the trophy and takes home the “Best New Team” in the regional MATHCOUNTS competition last Saturday, Feb. 22, in Greensboro. Pictured at Hawfields on Monday are the seventh-grade winners: (front row, l-r) Bailey Retherford, Megan Sikes, and Jordan Young; and (back row, l-r) Mason Covington, Nancy Trollinger (teacher), Caroline Smith (teacher), and Katie Evans.

 

Students engage in exciting, “bee-style” contests in which they compete alongside other bright, motivated students.

At the local, state and national levels, students win hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships and prizes every year.

“I liked doing an individual competition of problem solving with 30 problems in 40 minutes,” said Hawfields seventh grader Megan Sikes.

“I liked the target round,” said Jordan Young, “two questions in six minutes with four sets.”

Katie Evans explained one MATHCOUNT to solve. “Out of three boxes of marbles, you have A, B, and C amounts. You can only transfer marbles from B to C. How many marbles do you transfer from B to C for the box to be greater than A and B?”

Bailey Retherford said, “You subtract from B and add to C.”

Their teacher Trollinger added, “In that portion, they couldn’t use a calculator or have a conversation.”

Retherford won the highest score on the team for the Target Round, getting a $25 gift card to Target, said Smith, her teacher.

In the Team Round, the Hawfields students had to solve harder problems, 10 problems in 20 minutes, checking each other’s answers and correcting them.

Young and Retherford represented the team in the countdown: 45 seconds to solve one problem. The first to answer with a correct answer, the best score out of three, won.

“We adapted and used our problem solving skills,” said Retherford.

“We solved problems we hadn’t experienced in our career before,” said Young about competing as smart people.

As a teacher and math coach, Trollinger had worked with MATHCOUNTS competition series in another school system. She and Smith coach the girls, called the Math Counts Club, every Monday afternoon after school from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

“We had to take a test, 30 questions answered, to see who got to be on the MATHCOUNTS team for competition,” said Mason Covington.

The girls’ team came in early before school and worked during the snow days to practice, said Smith.

Asked about their motivation and interest in mathematics, Retherford said, “It’s natural for me. I’ve always been good at it, always made an “A” in math.”

Not so for Evans, she said it was her worst subject but then qualified that statement by saying,

“It’s in the genes. My mom’s an engineer. She said she is good with math because her mother helps her and doesn’t accept bad grades.”

Young said she credits her third-grade teacher Ann Russell at Audrey Garrett Elementary School. “I was in AIG math and learned a lot from my teacher.”

Besides natural ability, influence of teachers, and parental guidance, the girls all said, they loved math:

“I’d rather have a math book than a boyfriend.

Boys are complicated; math isn’t. You can depend on a math book.”

The girls also said their teachers at Hawfields—Smith and Trollinger—help them learn a lot.

“When we have trouble in math, Ms. Trollinger explains the problem and goes over it with us,” said Sikes.

“Ms. Smith sits down with you one-on-one and explains it,” said Retherford. “On her own time, she sits downs and helps you.”

“They help you understand,” said Covington.

The girls also talked about their love of sports and being scholar-athletes.

“All of us found time in our busy lives to go to MATHCOUNTS last Saturday,” said Young.

“Two of us are involved in soccer and two of us, in volleyball.”

The girls said they enjoyed meeting others that like math and had respect for the competition.

“Math-letes signed a contract that we would not cheat and not use others’ answers and we would follow the rules,” said Evans.

On the day of this interview, on Monday, Feb. 24, Trollinger said the Hawfields Middle School MATHCOUNTS club was going to find a mathematical way to determine if you have a perfect face.

They would be looking at various celebrities for studying mathematical calculations.