By Jenna Poppell
Math Olympiad, founded in 1977, is an organization that aims to foster a passion for and competency in mathematics and problem-solving through team-based competitions. Oak Hall’s Lower School Math Olympiad team has been competing for the past 12 years and usually place in the top 10 percent of all the teams in the world. Just last year, the team scored in the top 2 percent by the end of the school year. Lower School teacher Jackson Rogers runs the club. He sees the club as a way to help students grow as a team, and as individuals. “Through the program, students develop flexibility and creativity in overcoming challenges,” he said.
Once per month from November through March, students complete five math problems, which are not only difficult, but involve logic. From there, the problems are graded. By the end of the school year, teams earn a score out of 25 points.
This team is made up of fourth and fifth grade students with a love for math. “In order to be officially rostered, students must participate in the club for the full year,” Rogers explained. The students practice once a week after school for an hour with the help of Lower School teachers Maura Schiefer and Rick Mills. The teachers prepare the students by introducing math concepts, patterns, and problem-solving strategies. The students then have the opportunity to work together and ask questions during practice contests. While this sounds stressful, they often play fun math games as well.
For the competition, students compete with paper and pencil in exam-like conditions at the Lower School. For the aforementioned five problems, students have 30 minutes to complete the test. The exams are then submitted to the Math Olympiads organization, who tally the scores and compare them to other teams from around the world.