November 30, 2022

Students Show Off Math Skills

The MATHCOUNTS first-place team was from the Chesapeake Public Charter School in St. Mary’s County. From left are coach Taren Long, team members Derek Nichols, Hannah Torgesen, Annalee Johnson, and Courtney Rosenstadt, and head coach Ayrin Torgesen. In the individual competition, Hannah Torgesen took second place.

SMECO Sponsors Middle School Math Competition

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative‘s 23rd annual regional MATHCOUNTS was held Feb. 4 at Calvert Middle School in Prince Frederick. The competition challenged more than 230 students from 24 schools throughout Southern Maryland to test their math skills.


Third-place team: Spring Ridge Middle School, St. Mary’s County. From left, team members Gabriel Cannavo, Holland Henderson-Boyer, Kevin Seo, and Andrew Ng; back row, head coach Thomas Galligan and coach Gary Robinson.

A competitive technological world requires a proficiency in mathematics as a foundation for success in science, technology, and engineering. MATHCOUNTS aims to boost student interest in mathematics by making the subject challenging and entertaining. Each year, more than 500 regional competitions are held in middle schools across the country, with winners advancing to state competitions and then to the national competition.

According to its website, MATHCOUNTS alumni are more likely to continue with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, with three of every four alumni studying a STEM field in college — nearly three times the national average. And MATHCOUNTS builds the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for success: 95 percent of teachers believe that MATHCOUNTS problems are effective at improving their students’ problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Below are sample questions and answers from the MATHCOUNTS archives.


Second-place team: Northern Middle School, Calvert County. From left, team members Nima Talebi, William Rathgeb, Leo Johnson, and Robert Martin, and head coach Carole Butler.

  • The sum of the digits of 2017 is 10. What is the next year in which this will occur? (Answer: 2026.)
  • The number 2017 is prime. What was the most recent year before 2017 that was also a prime number? (Answer: 2011.)
  • If the NCAA 64-team tournament bracket consists of four regions, and the winner of each region will be part of the Final Four or semifinals of the tournament, how many possible Final Four team combinations are there? (Answer: 65,536 Final Four team combinations.)

The local MATHCOUNTS competition features rounds of mathematics problems to challenge students one-on-one and as teams over the course of the three-hour event. First is the sprint round, a 30-question test that students complete individually. The competitors go next to the target round, where they have four sets of math problems and six minutes to complete each set of two questions.


Fourth-place team: General Smallwood Middle School, Charles County. From left, coach Kathy Miles, head coach Asia Giwa-Agbomeirele, team members Grady Klaas, Brynna Bode, and Mason McManus, and coach Carrie Parent. Not pictured, Morgan Martin. In the countdown round, Brynna Bode took first place and Grady Klaas took second place.

In the individual competition, which is based on combined scores in the sprint and target rounds, Amelia Talbot of Cardinal Hickey Academy in Calvert County placed first, and Hannah Torgesen of Chesapeake Public Charter School in St. Mary’s County placed second.

The top 12 scorers finish the competition by facing each other in the countdown round, a single-elimination tournament in which students must respond verbally to questions in a matter of seconds. Brynna Bode finished first in the countdown round and Grady Klaas placed second. Both first- and second-place finishers were from General Smallwood Middle School in Charles County.

In the team round, foursomes of students answer 10 questions in 20 minutes. In the team competition, Chesapeake Public Charter School in St. Mary’s County won first place; team members included Annalee Johnson, Derek Nichols, Courtney Rosenstadt, and Hannah Torgesen, coached by Taren Long and Ayrin Torgesen.


Fifth-place team: Theodore Davis Middle School, Charles County. From left, head coach Jeanne Miller and team members Wesley Thompson, Andrew Cullen, Muhammad Hashim, and Yasmeen Adeleke.

Northern Middle School in Calvert County placed second; team members included Leo Johnson, Robert Martin, William Rathgeb, and Nima Talebi, coached by Carole Butler.

Spring Ridge Middle School in St. Mary’s County won third place; team members included Gabriel Cannavo, Holland Henderson-Boyer, Andrew Ng, and Kevin Seo, coached by Thomas Galligan and Gary Robinson.

The team from General Smallwood Middle School took fourth place, and Theodore Davis Middle School took fifth place. Both schools are in Charles County.

Sponsors for the local MATHCOUNTS competition are SMECO and the Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s county public schools, with the support of the National Society of Professional Engineers. Volunteers from SMECO helped score the tests. Winners of the Southern Maryland chapter competition will go on to compete in the statewide contest at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The top four individual competitors from each state competition receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the national competition in Orlando, Florida, in May.

To learn more about SMECO, visit its Leader Member Page.

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