2010 Thanksgiving Math Tournament Held at Concordia University
By Elisa Young, Edison High School, Class of 2013
The Orange County Math Circle’s second annual Thanksgiving Tournament took place this year just two days after Thanksgiving. With 87 elementary students from grades 3 through 6 participating this year, there was much excitement and enthusiasm in the air as the tournament began early Saturday morning. Like last year, the tournament consisted of three rounds of problem solving. Leaning away from dull homework drills, these problems gave many of the students a fresh experience in problem solving with a group of students who all love math. Instead of strictly following school standards, students have the chance of being more creative in trying to figure out solutions to math problems that require a good understanding of school-taught concepts.
The first round, the “sprint round,” consisted of a 30-question test with multiple choice answers, to be done in 40 minutes. These questions were questions to be answered in about a minute each, requiring students to think quickly to apply math concepts taught in school to trickier problems. The second round was the “target round,” an 8-question test given 24 minutes. These 8 questions were more challenging that the ones on the sprint round, and each was worth double the points of the sprint round questions. During the break afterward, the students excitedly discussed specific problems from the tests they just took, ways in which they solved the problems, and the answers.
In the final round, students got together in teams of 8 to 10 with others from their own grade for an exciting round of math relay. Determination could be spotted on each of the students’ faces as they raced through the both mental and physical workout to answer all 10 relay questions quickest. Best of all, it got the students to work together as a team, something the school math curriculum lacks to promote. Especially since the relay round did not count towards the students’ contest scores, they were much more relaxed and open to teamwork, giving the students a break from competitive problems solving to just enjoy some quick mental math and have fun with others. The relay round was an exciting event for the parents and volunteers as well, who enthusiastically cheered nonstop.
At the end, the top six placing students received awards. These students scored remarkably well, some missing only one problem from each problem solving round. Afterward, parents and students rushed to the back of the auditorium to collect their sprint and target tests, avidly starting to look over and re-work problems the moment they got them back. Students could be heard solving a problem out loud or asking their parents about a certain concept in the hallway. Their love for math and willingness to learn was quite impressive. It is with great dedication that these young students were able to attend a math tournament just a couple days after Thanksgiving, while they were still on vacation! For many of the younger students, the tournament was a first experience of math competition. By bringing together young and enthusiastic mathematicians, the Orange County Math Circle hopes to trigger more interest in mathematics for these students, as well as inspire them to continue problem solving.
For tournament results, visit 2010 Thanksgiving Math Tournament Results.