Local middle school mathletes gear up for MATHCOUNTS competition at Fairfield University



Fairfield EntranceMiddle school students from Fairfield county will compete this weekend for the right to represent their state in the annual MATHCOUNTS competition. Fairfield University will host the event on Saturday, February 12 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Gonzaga Auditorium, and the young mathletes will race to answer sample math problems such as: How many six-inch by six-inch square tiles are needed to cover a three-foot by two-foot rectangular section of floor?

An all-day event, MATHCOUNTS is a national mathematics enrichment, coaching and competition program that promotes math to middle school students. The event strives to drive participants to develop a passion for mathematics. For the past fourteen years, Fairfield University has hosted the Southwest Conn., Chapter of the competition. The program is run by the Society of Professional Engineers, and starts at the county level. The top 25 percent of the winners go on to the state competition and the final top four math-whizzes go on to compete in Washington, D.C.

Joseph Dennin, a math professor at Fairfield has been in charge of making the event a success every year, and he said with approximately 120-140 talented competitors from more than 20 local schools all gathered in Gonzaga, the energy levels are always high. "It's always a great day," Dennin said.

"About 23 teams compete in breakout rooms in Canisius Hall and take the math exams. Once the exams are finished everyone gathers in Gonzaga where the winners from the exam participate in the quiz competition, hosted by Tom Appleby of CT News 12," he said.

"At this point of the competition everyone cheers for the students on stage. The audience stays involved," Dennin said. "If someone doesn't know an answer on stage, it's thrown out for anyone to answer it, and if they do, they are invited up on stage," he added.

Dennin said the gathering is a great chance for students who enjoy math to get together and compete. "A lot of kids that age think that math is not always a cool thing, so this is an opportunity to get together with others who enjoy it," he said.

Celebrating its 27th anniversary, MATHCOUNTS inspires excellence, confidence and curiosity in US middle school students through fun and challenging math programs. Over 6 million students have participated in MATHCOUNTS, and the program has received two White House citations and has been recognized in White House ceremonies by five presidents, including President Barack Obama.

Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers, CNA Foundation and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the MATHCOUNTS competition program relies upon a national network of 17,000 volunteers.

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Media Contact: Mark Gregorio, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, mgregorio1@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 8, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 195