OBSERVER Staff Writer
RIPLEY - District students clashed and calculated for mathematical supremacy, and bragging rights, with a Pi Day competition to close "National Math Week."
Middle and high school students and staff at Ripley Central School hosted their 1st Annual Battle of the Math Brains in recognition of Pi Day (March 14 or 3.14) Friday afternoon in the high school gym. The competition represented the culmination of a weeklong mathematics celebration, held in conjunction with the New York State Math Tests, which featured a multitude of fun-infused, math-related activities throughout the school.
OBSERVER Photo by Joel Cuthbert
Ripley Central School students wrapped up their Pi Day competition appropriately with a pie-eating contest. Pictured (from left to right) are ninth-grader Adam Fisher, eighth-grader Ruby Hughes, and seventh-grader Jason Brightman.
"This week has been so much fun," Lisa Stonefoot, a math teacher at RCS and one of the coordinators for the event, said Friday. "The students have had an opportunity to see that math is more than pencil and paper work. It was a great way to show enthusiasm about the subject, and see the students come together to compete as a class. It was a great way to celebrate the end of the New York State math tests."
With testing completed by the end of Friday, it was time for the school's math minds to compete.
Students in grades 7-12 were assigned a color for the battle based on their grade level and wore special "Math Week" T-shirts - designed by Kirsten Milliron, a junior at RCS - printed in class colors: blue for seniors, pink for juniors, green for sophomores, orange for freshmen, purple for eighth graders, and yellow for seventh-graders.
For the Battle of the Math Brains, classes competed in five different events which combined mathematical problem solving and physical activity. Respective grade levels selected a representative to compete for each of the different events, with cohorts judged both on competition results and the percentage of classmates sporting team colors.
"Each grade level (battled) for the best math brains," Donna Lauzon, another coordinator and RCS math teacher for grades 3-12, explained.
Students vied for the official Pi Day trophy with an endurance competition, keeping a hoola hoop moving anywhere on their body while being distracted by Lauzon; a math knowledge competition, in which students were challenged to unscramble 10 math terms in the least amount of time; a flexibility competition - Math Twister - where students were forced to solve math problems to find the answer and the correct placement for their hand or foot; a speed and agility competition - Math Relay Race - where students completed math games before using a scooter, jump rope or hop ball to get to the next part of the course and tag their teammate; and an appetite competition, which finished the battle with an appropriate pie eating contest.
Both Stonefoot and Lauzon said students fully embraced the activities scheduled throughout the week, and in particular the capstone math competition, helping to make "Math Week" fun and educational. Decked out in class colors, painted faces, and various goofy get-ups for Friday, students cheered their classmates on from the bleachers as they competed.
First-place was awarded to the seniors, second-place to the juniors, third-place to the sophomores, fourth-place to the freshmen, fifth-place to the eighth-graders, and sixth-place to the seventh-graders.
"I love it," Rebecca Coburn, a junior Math Week Committee member, said regarding "Math Week" and the competition Friday. "The battle really gets people excited about math."
Each day of the week leading up to the Battle of the Math Brains was also marked with a different mathematical theme. Monday was Parallel Line Day in which students wore clothing with parallel stripes. Tuesday was Number Day in which students wore their favorite athletic jerseys and other clothing with numbers. Wednesday was Circle Day in which students wore polka dots and other clothing with circles. Thursday was Symmetry/Twin Day in which students were encouraged to dress up in identical clothing.
In addition, cafeteria staff, under the direction of Sue Gambino and with input from the student Math Week Committee, designed special menus to recognize each theme day. Menu items included hot dogs for Parallel Line Day, chicken nuggets - which are counted out per serving - for Number Day, and circular personal pan pizza 'pi' for Friday. Students were also treated to 'pi'-napple and lemon 'pi' tarts for lunch.
Throughout the week, high school students had the opportunity to present math to elementary classrooms and perform activities with pupils in preschool through sixth grade, including stringing beads with the youngest students, calculating pi, and playing pin the radius on the circle.
"Last year was the first year we made it 'Math Week,'" Lauzon explained Tuesday. "It's been quite a few years that we have celebrated Pi Day. Last year, though, it exploded into 'Math Week,' and this year the 'Math Week' exploded and got bigger and better."
'Math Week" activities were developed by RCS math teachers Stonefoot, Lauzon and Lynne Mueller with help from student Math Week Committee members Colburn, Jacob Horstman, Milliron and Steven Tessmer.
"We really wanted to expand what we did this year," Stonefoot said. "The committee members were so creative in coming up with ideas for the theme days, the breakfast and lunch menus as well as the Battle of the Math Brains activities."
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