The tens digit of a two-digit number exceeds its units digit by 4. The number exceeds twice the number obtained by reversing the digits of the original number by 10. What is the original number?
Math. Just the word alone can either cause your heart to flutter with excitement or drop with disdain. For members of Episcopal’s Middle School Math team and Upper School’s Mu Alpha Theta, hearts are certainly aflutter with excitement when they see an equation. In speaking with Upper School math teacher Joan Moroney it is obvious that she is also a fan of formulas. Recently, Moroney and her colleagues, along with the Mu Alpha Theta team organized the third annual Episcopal math tournament. Here’s a look at the numbers behind accomplishing such a task:
Another of the organizers’ goals was to include Middle School mathletes. Moroney says this early exposure to the excitement of a math tournament gets Middle School students more interested in math and in becoming a part of their school’s high school math community. “Freshmen can be scared to join Mu Alpha Theta, but having Middle School experience creates a seamless transition,” Moroney says.
Members of Mu Alpha Theta were a critical component of the tournament’s success. Students oversaw the event the day of competition by doing everything from proctoring tests and setting up for participants, to running the sound system and grading exams. Mu Alpha Theta President Judie Williams says the entire experience was eye-opening. “Organizing the Mu Alpha Theta tournament showed me how much goes into these tournaments, because I have been to countless tournaments without realizing all the work that goes into them so it has definitely given me more of an appreciation for the club.”
Why are students volunteering to take math tests on a weekend? Moroney says the events are an exciting social affair for most competitors. She says students enjoy the occasions because they are traditionally low stress opportunities to be with friends and they truly enjoy doing math and solving a problem to get an answer. “When they do well, there’s a sense of accomplishment,” she says.
Already this year, the Episcopal competitors have certainly accomplished a lot. The Middle and Upper School teams placed second overall in Division 2 at the St. Paul math tournament and second overall in the Ben Franklin tournament. While the Upper School team did not compete in their own tournament, the Middle School team placed third overall on the Interschool Test.
Students, like Williams and others, truly enjoy the team math experience. “Mu Alpha Theta was the first academic extracurricular that I participated in, and I remember thinking that it was going to be a very competitive club and only the best of the best could join,” she says. “However, I quickly realized that I was completely wrong because the club allows for students to improve their math skills in a more laid back environment that is really fun.”
A math tournament certainly is not your typical math class test. Moroney says there are 15 fast-paced, two-minute rounds of ciphering in which students solve a problem each round. As an added bonus, if they complete the problems in one minute they earn double the points. During the interschool testing round, the entire school divides a test among the students and they have 45 minutes to solve approximately 25 problems. Moroney says this is where things really get exciting. There is a chaotic energy as students rush to divide up problems and work together for answers. Students self-organize with one team member recording answers while others feverishly work problems. There are no calculators and only scratch paper is available.
Moroney says the typical math club participant is a well-rounded student who wants to cultivate their math skills and have a good time. She says the Mu Alpha Theta roster includes football players, cheerleaders, artists and more. It is a great example of students with diverse talents finding the right place to explore them further.
Need another reason to consider being a mathlete? Consider this. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in math occupations is projected to grow 28% between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than the average, and will result in approximately 50,400 new jobs. The BLS also says math occupations are typically higher paying. Participating in math tournaments could help a student discover a natural interest or talent in the subject and while not every mathlete aspires to be a mathematician, developing this skill set will serve them well regardless of their long-term plans.
Making a difference with math!
As a result of the Episcopal tournament success, Mu Alpha Theta will be making a $500 donation to the Baton Rouge Food Bank with the money raised.
Want to test your own math skills? Submit your answer to the problem at the beginning of this article in the comment section below.