On February 1st and 2, ANS participated in the yearly MATHCOUNTS competition in El Salvador along with 21 other schools from Central America. The mathematics competition featured a total of 42 teams. This was the school’s first year participating since 2018.
This year, the team only had 3 weeks to get ready for this formidable competition. However, they did their best to get ready by rehearsing and practicing both individually and in groups under times that would accurately simulate the competition.
In MATHCOUNTS, there are four different rounds. The first round is individual and consists of solving 30 questions in 40 minutes. The second round is 8 questions in 30 minutes. The third round is 10 questions in 20 minutes, and the final round is for the top ten students of all Central América, with 45 seconds per question.
For this competition, coaches expect students to gain understanding and clarity of the event while being exposed to math relay and what the competitions look like. They also encourage students to meet with others who are passionate about math. Though the team only had a short time to prepare, they performed well in this arduous competition. Next year the school expects to have more students and to have returning mathletes who will teach the younger ones.
In an interview, Mrs. Claudia Genet mentioned that as a “first-time coach, [she] was very anxious and stressed out because [the students] weren’t quite clear on how [the competition] was going to look like. But once you understand the dynamics of the event and what it takes to prepare your students, you feel excited because you know how to prepare your students and we know how to train them and better strategies to use, [and] how to motivate students to develop their math skills… As a teacher, you also start thinking about what to do in your own classroom, not only [with] competing [students] but also [regular] students so that they focus on mental math and arithmetic so that they can always remember how to think with their minds without the calculators.”
The major analogy to be made about this experience is that we live in a competitive world. This was just a school competition about math, but real life is just like that: whoever has more skills to perform is the one that gets the most opportunities and gets better jobs. The focus that the students that participated will have in class will also be better because their experience in the competition has incited them to go beyond and research by themselves how to learn new unknown skills.
Additionally, during the competition, they were able to identify their strengths and weaknesses based on their math skills. The experience was an eye-opener that allowed them to realize which areas they want to strengthen, and what goals they wanted to set up for the future. Likewise, they improved their teamwork, listening and group decision-making skills.