By Tim Leeds
Although the university will be closed for spring break, close to 1,000 middle and high school students will be at the Montana State University-Northern campus on Tuesday, March 14.
They will be participating in the 2000 Montana Council of Mathematics Math Contest, sponsored by the Montana Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM).
Contest Coordinator Virginia Sluiter, mathematics professor at MSU-Northern, said the contest has been held at the university for about 20 years. She has been the regional director of the competition for the last 11. Gary Staudinger, math teacher at Havre High, has helped her for the last two years; Fred Nelson, math teacher at KG High School, runs the computerized registration and test scoring.
Sluiter said that with a few registrations still to come, more than 900 seventh- through twelfth-graders from schools ranging from Saco to North Toole County, from Whitewater to Belt, are registered to compete.
Sluiter said setting up the event is very challenging. She said she asked Staudinger to help set it up the last two years because it was becoming too much to do alone.
Sluiter said Nelson, an NMC graduate in mathematics, has computerized the competition and made it much easier and smoother to run.
"He's the champion of this," she said. "He's programmed the whole thing. He does everything, sorts everything. He's even digitized my signature so I don't have to sign everything."
Scholarships and fee waivers are awarded to competitors. The top senior boy and girl at the regional level receive a $200 scholarship from the MCTM, and the top girl and boy on the state level receive a $500 scholarship from the council. MSU-Northern is also offering a fee waiver to the top senior boy and girl from the region.
Seniors who choose to participate in the Senior, Finite or Scholarship tests on the Senior Division may also be eligible for scholarships from Joan Dolan and Adrian Hess Memorial scholarships.
Each participating "mathlete" will receive a certificate for attending the competition.
The scores of competitors in each event are compared with the scores of competitors from schools of the same Montana High School Association classification size. The top 15 percent in each class receive superior ratings and the next 20 percent receive honorable mention. The top competitor at each level for each classification receives a bronze pin.
The superiors in each event are then compared on a statewide basis. The top 15 percent of these receive superior ratings and the next 20 percent receive honorable mention. Students receiving superior or honorable mention ratings on a state basis will receive certificates, and the top competitors on each level will receive a gold pin.
The competition is divided into two levels, with grades 7-9 in the Junior Division and 10-12 in the Senior Division.
Each level of the competition has a test for each grade in the division, four elective tests and a team test. Participants are allowed to use a calculator. The tests range from relatively fundamental concepts to quite challenging problems.
Students choose which tests they will take in the first four individual rounds. They must take three tests but are allowed one free period if they wish.
The team test is limited to six students from one school. A representative from each grade in the division is required, and no more than three from any one grade is allowed. The questions are picked from several topic areas.
Help with the competition is welcomed. All of the teachers/sponsors that attend help with proctoring the events, and other individuals are always needed to work the event-packet desk in each building or to fill in for an absent proctor.
Volunteers may e-mail Sluiter at email@example.com or call 265-4135.