Top middle school students compete in MATHCOUNTS competition at Walt Disney World

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The nation’s top 224 middle school students who have excelled at math are competing in the MATHCOUNTS National Competition at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort this weekend. These students have earned their spots after winning school, local and state competitions. Now, they are vying for the titles of 2012 National Champion and National Championship Team.

Raytheon Company is hosting the event. If you’re not familiar with the defense company, perhaps you’ll recognize the name from its sponsorship of the Sum of all Thrills experience at Epcot’s Innoventions. The exhibit gives students the opportunity to put their math skills to the test as they design and experience their own thrill rides. (Read all about the Sum of all Thrills on Jack Spence’s blog /blogs/jackspence/2009/10/sum_of_all_thrills.html)

These Mathletes will solve problems using critical-thinking skills in both written and oral rounds in individual and team components. The competition problems focus on the 6th through 8th grade standards of the National Council of Teachers in Mathematics. Want to see if you’re smarter than a middle school student? The championship will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com, with the Countdown Round at 2 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 11.

Check out these MATHCOUNTS questions from a previous year and see what lies ahead:

Team Round (calculator permitted; 10 problems in 20 minutes; students work with three other team
members)
Problem: A four-digit perfect square integer is created by placing two positive two-digit perfect square
integers next to each other. What is the four-digit square integer?
Answer: 1681

Countdown Round (no calculator; head-to-head challenge between two students; first-to-answer; no
more than 45 seconds permitted)
Problem: When Bob exercises, he does jumping jacks for 5 minutes and then walks the track at 4 minutes
per lap. If he exercised for 73 minutes on Monday, how many laps did he walk?
Answer: 17 laps
Problem: What number is 17 less than its negative? Express your answer as a decimal to the nearest tenth.
Answer: 8.5

If you’re up for the challenge, try your hand at other real MATHCOUNTS competition questions on the MathMovesU Facebook page. Users will be able to answer questions, earn and share badges, advance to higher playing levels and challenge their friends.

This year MATHCOUNTS also has introduced a new element to the competition, the Reel Math Challenge video competition. Middle school students across the country were invited to create tutorial videos about math problems and their concepts that were based on the MATHCOUNTS School Handbook. Four finalist videos have been selected by a panel of MATHCOUNTS judges. The Mathletes will watch them and vote for the winner Saturday.

The individual Raytheon MATHCOUNTS National Competition Champion will receive the $8,000 Donald G. Weinert Scholarship to the college of his or her choice along with a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. Runners-up, as well as members of the winning team, also will receive college scholarships and trips to attend space camp. Each member of the winning video’s team also will also receive a $1,000 college scholarship.

“The Raytheon MATHCOUNTS National Competition is the ultimate stage for our nation’s rising young math stars to demonstrate their talents and achieve more in mathematics,” said Lou DiGioia, executive director of MATHCOUNTS. “Our partnership with Raytheon enables us to continue to inspire excellence, curiosity and confidence in mathematics in U.S. middle school students and to help provide today’s students with the foundation for successful careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

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