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BRIEF: Math Field Day stretches student skills

This spring, several students from honors math classes will go to California State University, Fresno to compete in the annual Math Field Day competition, April 20. In this event, hosted by the Fresno State Department of Mathematics, students may enter three different activities: Leap Frog, a two person math test; Mad Hatter, a timed test; and The Game, a logic-based game tournament. The event also coincides with Fresno State’s Vintage Day.

FC has won the small school division from 2010 through last year. Before that, they took second for two years, in 2008 and 2009. For the first time since 2007, attendance will be optional for extra credit, due to scheduling conflicts with the California Scholarship Federation (CSF) conference.

FC Math Department Head Michael Fenton has taken his honors classes to Math Field Day since 2007. He noted that Math Field Day provides students with an opportunity to do math outside the context of school.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to do some math outside of the normal classroom,” Fenton said. “For the students that are not as strong in math, The Game is a great idea, since it is more logic and strategy. For the students who are really good at math, Math Field Day goes to another level beyond what we do in the classroom. It’s a good way to stretch themselves even further; even if they have a 95% in class, they don’t know everything there is to know. Hopefully it will be challenging and intriguing for some students and make them want to learn even more.”

Freshman Justin Houts expressed enthusiasm about attending Math Field Day.

“I’m really looking forward to competing,” Houts said. “I think I will be in the Mad Hatter competition. Math Field Day is a really good way for us to use our math skills to compete.”

Fenton also discussed the prospects for this year’s competition, as well as his goals.

“I think we will do pretty well this year, just because we have a record of doing well,” Fenton said. “The Game tournament, which is usually our strongest event, is very unpredictable. I am just starting now to assemble groups of students for each event, but I am hopeful that we could win the small school division for both junior high and high school.”

Jason Kim, ’14, will be in the Mad Hatter category for grades 11 and 12. He hopes to improve on his performance from last year.

“I feel great, because this time I am actually prepared for Mad Hatter,” Kim said. “Last year I didn’t prepare much, but this year I hope to win some awards that look good on my college applications. Since you only have about a minute and thirty seconds to answer the questions, practicing makes a big difference.”

For a list of the competitions available, click here.

For more news, read the April 5 article, BRIEF: Inspire Gala to feature Tebow, April 5.

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