Five Harwood students advanced to the State competition at UVM yesterday. They are, from left to right in the attached photo (Math Club @ State Competition), William Clark, Caroline Cox, Aoife Garvin, Fiona Wanner and Eli Askew.

By Claire Pomer, Harwood Union correspondent

On March 30, five members of the Harwood Middle School Mathcounts team participated in the Vermont State competition. Before that, on February 10, all 12 team members competed in the Northeast Vermont Chapter competition. Coached by Andrea Knepper, the team prepared for months before this alongside other Math Club members. According to Knepper, there are about 24 students who come regularly, and 26 took the test to qualify for the competition. 





Mathcounts is a nonprofit that offers extracurricular math programs for middle school students across the country. Schools can send up to 12 students to the competitions, where there are four rounds: Sprint, where students complete as many problems as possible in 40 minutes without using a calculator; Target, where students are given four pairs of problems that focus on reasoning and problem-solving skills; the team round, where four students from each team have 20 minutes to solve 10 problems; and Countdown, where the top 12 individuals face off against another team without using a calculator (which participant Eli Askew called “nerve wracking”).

The top three teams that got the best score in the Chapter competitions advance to the state competitions, and the top four from each state compete in the national competition. As the competition advances, the difficulty increases. Three Harwood students placed in the top 10 in the Northeast Chapter Competition, and five advanced to the state competition: William Clark, Caroline Cox, Aoife Garvin, Fiona Wanner, and Eli Askew. 




The training for the competition was diverse. It included working to solve for a missing dimension of an object, furthering the math that they had been learning in class, and even going on a “treasure hunt” around the school to find and solve math problems.

“A lot of the competition includes timed problem-solving, so we did things like the treasure hunt to help prepare for that,” said team coach Knepper. The preparation didn’t just include preparation for the test; it also had the students get to know each other. “It was cool to be able to hang out and do schoolwork with seventh graders,” said Caroline Cox, an eighth grader who participated in both the Chapter and state competitions. “I got to meet people that I didn’t even know before.” 

“I think it’s great that we have so many students who participate,” said Knepper. “It’s really fun that we get to have this chance to do this fun math that’s a lot more problem-based than the current curriculum. The curriculum is at such a pace that there’s a number of students who get bored, but this is perfect for them.