ΜΑΘ Math Tournament, a story worthy of Newton

Junior+Lily+Langstaff+helps+during+the+ciphering+test+in+the+MSMS+Math+Tournament.+

Weslyn McMurrin

Junior Lily Langstaff helps during the ciphering test in the MSMS Math Tournament.

Gracie Rowland, Staff Writer

Derivatives, decimals, dividends, Descartes’ rule of signs, dilation and many more deliriously dizzying math concepts were put to the test this Thursday as hundreds of Mississippi middle and high school students came to MSMS’s annual Mu Alpha Theta Math Tournament.

The tournament, run by MSMS students and the math department faculty, was held in downtown Columbus in the Trotter Convention Center. This is just one of many math outreach events that MSMS holds. Classes were canceled, so MSMS students abandoned sweatpants for khakis and AP Biology textbooks for Calculus test answers keys. Students were assigned to four jobs: monitor, runner, grader or committee member. Monitors watch over the 55-minute written tests, runners preside over the ciphering tests, graders grade the ciphering portion and committee members plan, run and orchestrate the entire event along with the math teachers.

Xavier Lucas Cooper, one of the monitors, believes the impact of this event opens up an opportunity for many students.

“This tournament allows students who actually have an interest in math to go and be able to compete in it,” he said. “You know, other sports like football, they have opportunities to compete, but a lot of students who really like math don’t.”

The competition consists of four major events: written tests, ciphering tests, Potpourri and Interschool. The written and ciphering tests are organized by subject area, including Algebra I and II, Geometry, Precalculus/Trigonometry and Calculus. The Potpourri and Interschool events are team-oriented competitions based more on logic than concepts.

Zach Medlin, a committee member who helped create the Algebra II tests, said, “I’ve spent the past few months making the ciphering and written Algebra II tests with Ellen Overstreet. This tournament is important because mathematics is so important. Personally, before I came into the preparation process for the competition I wasn’t as in to math. It was more of a, okay, math, whatever. Doing this preparation and analyzing these problems and making them has helped me to realize the fun of mathematics, so I’m certain that it has helped these kids too.”

Many participants look forward to the tournament for its competitive aspect, while others simply enjoy the fun of interacting with other math lovers and traveling with their team. Allison Yingst, a senior at Heritage Academy and veteran participant of the tournament, discussed her excitement for the day. “This sounds cheesy but it’s honestly really cool to see so many people come from all over the state and put in a lot of effort to get here. We all complain how bad we are [at math] but at the end of the day we all care about learning and are willing to make it fun.”

Alisha Burch, a head runner for Algebra I, related her experience. “It was difficult trying to get papers to the graders because of the movement from one side to the other, but it was very fun being there. Some of the kids were joking around so it was great being around them and seeing them working so hard.”

The overall winner of the tournament was Northwest Rankin High, with Saint Andrew’s as a close second.