Area Students Put Their Math Skills to the Test

Math Competition
Math never looked so fun as Genesis Lugo of Umatilla High School races across the field during the Math Relay contest at Eastern Oregon University.

Students from Umatilla and Echo put their mathematics skills to the test recently at the Eastern Oregon University Regional High School Mathematics Competition in La Grande.

UHS Relay Team
Five Umatilla students took home the first-place trophy in the Regional High School Mathematics Competition Math Relay, Tuesday at Eastern Oregon University. Pictured, from left: Justin Maret, Anabel Moreno, Genesis Lugo, Bradley Bensen and Anthony Borchert.
More than 370 students participated in last week’s event, traveling to EOU from Cove, Dayville, Echo, Elgin, Enterprise, Heppner, Irrigon, Imbler, Jordan Valley, La Grande, Ontario, Riverside, Umatilla, Union, Vale and Wallowa.

Although neither Umatilla County team qualified any students for the state exam, both took home awards. Among those awards was a trophy in the Math Relay, the last event of the competition.

The Math Relay involves five team members – one from each of the competition levels: pre-algebra, algebra I, geometry, algebra II and open. Students line up in order of their level, and when the facilitator yells, “Go,” the first student races to the opposite side of the room, solves a math problem, returns to the line and tags their teammate. After a set period of time, the team with the most correctly-answered problems wins.

Umatilla’s team of Bradley Bensen, Anthony Borchert, Genesis Lugo, Justin Maret and Anabel Moreno took home first place in the large schools division.

A student from Echo also placed in one of the competitions.

In “Solve That Problem,” students bid on how much time it will take them to complete a type of problem. Once the winning bid is awarded, that student goes to the front of the room and the problem is revealed. If the student completes the problem in the chosen time, he or she receives full points. All other competitors receive a fraction of those points if they successfully complete the problem within two minutes.

Echo student Henry Gehrke placed third in the geometry “Solve That Problem” challenge.

The competition also included a Math Bee – similar to a spelling bee but with math problems – and the State Exam.

According to Amy Yielding, EOU assistant professor of mathematics, students who placed first, second or third in geometry, algebra II, pre-calculus and calculus at the EOU event qualified for the state competition at Oregon State University.

No Umatilla County students qualified for the state match, but Umatilla’s Capriana Meinke placed first in the algebra I test, earning her a $1,000 scholarship.

Umatilla’s Anthony Borchert also placed second in pre-algebra, and Justin Maret placed third in algebra I.

UHS math teacher Nancy Swarat said this is the second time Umatilla has competed at the EOU competition. The team previously competed in a math skills competition at Blue Mountain Community College.

“It was a nice day for everyone,” Swarat said.

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