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February 9, 2017
Nicholls hosted the MathCounts Bayou Regional Competition for 6, 7 and 8 grade students in Gouaux Hall on Saturday, Feb. 4.
Mike D’Angelo, part of the Louisiana Engineering Society, was one of the hosts of the MathCounts competition.
He explained that this program’s purpose is to attract young students to the engineering profession.
“Students generally interested in math and science are usually the students that progress into our field, so we try to make ourselves available to them through the engineering society,” D’Angelo said. “The purpose of the engineering society is to encourage and promote our profession.”
Established in 1983, MathCounts is a national non-profit organization that provides a series of math programs for middle school students in the United States.
According to the MathCounts website, “The Competition Series has four levels of competition—school, chapter, state and national. Each level of competition is comprised of four rounds—Sprint, Target, Team and Countdown Round. Altogether the rounds are designed to take about three hours to complete.”
To prepare for the competition, the advisors of the participating schools receive the 2016-2017 MATHCOUNTS School Handbook and online access to several math resources.
24 students participated from the middle schools Bayou Community Academy, Ramen K. Smith, Houma Junior High and Evergreen Junior High.
Out of those four schools, the top three teams that will advance to the state competition are: Bayou Community Academy, in first place, Houma Junior High, in second place, and Evergreen Junior High in 3rd place.
While they compete in teams, the program also hosts rounds of competition for individuals.
For the individual competition, Cole Weber from Bayou Community Academy won first place.
Lacey Leonard came in second place, while Emily Baudoin placed third. Both students attend Evergreen Junior High.
Chadwick Young, associate professor of Physics at Nicholls, is the coach for Bayou Community Academy. He said that only two sixth graders competed.
Out of the two, Carly Landry placed sixth overall, beating several eighth graders.
Throughout the day at the competition, Engineers make themselves available to interact with the students.
Stan Whitney, part of the Louisiana Engineering Society, said, “All of the sponsoring engineers that volunteer to come are always available to answer any questions. Time doesn’t usually permit for us to have a formal presentation with the students because they are busy taking their tests.”
While the competition is open to all schools in the area, very few participate because of the lack of math teachers and advisors willing to participate.
“We definitely want more schools to get involved, but sometimes it is hard for educators to spare some time in the afternoon to prepare the students,” D’Angelo said.
Melanie Calliot, coordinator of the bayou region chapter, explained that they have incorporated more incentives to encourage students to participate.
“This year we decided to award the overall top sixth, top seventh and top eighth graders trophies,” Calliot said. “We did this because sixth graders usually don’t place on a team or individually, and we wanted them to have an incentive to participate.”