Competitions challenge students, highs scoring individuals
Math teacher Michael Fenton took about 100 students to compete in the anual California State University, Fresno, Math Field Day event where three different activities challenged students in different areas.
Every FC student who is in math teacher Michael Fenton's honors or Advanced Placement (AP) classes attended the annual Math Field Day, held at California State University, Fresno, April 21.
Overall, the FC high school and junior high math departments placed first in the small school division. For the high school, this was a three-year winning streak. Out of the 18 schools that competed, they placed second in the overall tournament, just behind Clovis West High School. The junior high received first place out of ten schools.
Fenton took about 90 students to the event, 35 of them consisted of junior high kids, as well as 10 elementary. Interestingly, there is no elementary division, so those students participated in the junior high sect.
"I think it's a great experience for all the kids," Fenton said. "Some kids work for months, while others just play the game. But, I think that the event is valuable for all students."
Amongst these awards, a few students earned special recognition. This includes senior Jacob Williams, who placed second in the high school "Game Tournament." Williams got a perfect score of 20 in the first two rounds and therefore went straight into a tiebreaker with two other students.
"I learned to play sophomore year and spent a day practicing," Williams said. "I was just able to adjust better than the people in the group I was in. And luckily, I got put into a group that didn't figure out the change in rules during the second round."
There were also multiple junior high and elementary students who took different places in the sixth through eighth grade "Game Tournament."
"I am happy and glad I was able to represent FC well, all my hard work has paid off. It's a great competition and I was privileged to take part in it because it challenged me to remember everything I've learned over the years." -- Justin Houts, '16,
This is Fenton's sixth year of taking students to the event, and this year's attendance broke that number with a record of more students than ever before.
"This year had the most participants ever for the whole event," Fenton said. "It's probably because more people are learning about it. [Also] I've been encouraging some of the junior high teachers at different schools to take a team."
Scoring this high is not irregular for FC. Fenton says that the team, in the few years he has taken them, has won first place five out of the six times in the junior high division, as well as multiple times in the high school. Overall, FC normally places in the top ten highest scoring schools.
"We often [have a student] place in the top three in "The Game," it's one of our specialties," Fenton said. "It's rarer to place in the other two events. This is probably because competition is fiercer at the high school level."
Along with Williams, Justin Houts, '16, placed second in the sixth through eighth grade "Mad Hatter Marathon," one of the other events students can participate in at the Math Field Day. The "Mad Hatter Marathon" gives students 40 questions in two different sessions. Students are given 90 seconds to answer a question, then the proctor moves onto the next problem.
"I am happy and glad I was able to represent FC well, all my hard work has paid off," Houts said. "It's a great competition and I was privileged to take part in it because it challenged me to remember everything I've learned over the years."
Other students who scored well in "Mad Hatter" were Tae Min Oh, '12, who played in the 11-12 division, as well as Jason Kim, '14, who took part in the 9-10 section.
The last contest available for students to play was "Leap Frog." This involves a partner effort in which the pair have to do a number of problems. After this first round is over, together, partners will ponder the different questions and fill in their final answers.
Senior Jacob Williams, right, played in the final round of "The Game," earning a second place title at the anual Math Field Day. About 100 students attended, ranging from grades 5-12, winning the first place award for the small school division.
"Last year [alumna] Richard Lopez, '11, and Zachary Diaz de la Cuesta, '12, got second place," Fenton said. "They were a good tag team. Scores fluxuate depending on the strength of the students as well as the difficulty of the questions. [This year] our best finisher for Leap Frog was Cuesta and Jonathon Passmore, '12."
The other two students who partook in this game were Gee Hyun Park, '12, who partnered with Tyler Zaentz, '12. As Park's second year participating in the same event, her previous experience has led her to lean on the group effort when answering.
"Fenton wanted me to play 'Leap Frog' and last year it was pretty fun to work together and get to know how other people approached math," Park said. "The problems themselves were similar to last year, so you really have to think through each problem and not fall into the traps."
Next year, Fenton hopes that the students will take home more individual awards, so he plans on taking more students to increase the chances.
"Next year it would be nice to repeat what happened this year, but with more individual awards," Fenton said. "The more people I take the better. One day it would be nice to win overall in the high school, but that would mean beating every single high school. It would be really cool to do that once."
For more information on the results of the 2012 Math Field Day for all schools, visit CSU Fresno's results.
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