"For Math Club, it figures"
June 9, 2008 · Updated 2:57 PM
"If six test scores have a mean of 71, a mode of 75, a median of 74.5, a range of 28 and a high score of 80, what was the lowest score?Still thinking? For those whose high school days haunt their sleep, numeracy oftentimes equals nightmare. For the math club at Bainbridge High School, however, conundrums like this are a dream. Math is not a chore, but a game to these kids, said BHS math instructor Joy Namvedt. A sample problem:Centripetal acceleration (c) is the acceleration an object experiences as it turns in a circular path. It is calculated by the formula c=v2/r, where v is the speed measured in meters per second, and r is the radius of the turn measured in meters.If c=9.8 and v=20, find r:A) 0.25, B) 4, C) 40, D) 0.025What are the units for c?A) 1/s, B) m3/s2, C) ms2, D), m/s2If v is constant and r doubles, how does c change?A) doubles, B) halves, C) quadruples, D) squares* * * * *Namvedt confesses that even she has occasional difficulty with problems like these - taken from the topical problems of the recent WSMC high school math competition.Members of Namvedt's 20-person math club won several awards at the championship, held in Ellensburg, April 29.Thomas Ball was named top freshman and Kevin Kuester top junior, while the BHS club came in second and fourth in the team problem competitions.According to Namvedt, math challenge competitors required an in-depth understanding knowledge of everything from algebra to calculus.Those in the know may well have estimated the probability of the club's success, without the aid of a calculator.The school had already swept the board at the regional competitions held at Olympic High School a few months ago, winning a first, second and third in the team projects, along with top freshman, sophomore, junior and senior awards. Student Sandy Eckel's explanation of the uses of the graphic calculator also secured the chalk talk prize. The math club also has long been scoring highly in Jeopardy-style speed tests.Last week, the pupils who gathered round their awards were as sharp and to-the-point as their test-regulation pencils. I enjoy being challenged - I don't like tedious problems, said club member Anya Stettle. First place winner Jeff Hanke shared Stettle's determined enthusiasm - I attack the math challenge, he said, with a vigorous punch of the air.Namvedt said she believes that those kids who perform well in mathematical challenges have a desire to learn beyond what can be taught. She herself was only on the debate team in school, not seeing the point a of math club. Not everyone's as pumped up about math as Bainbridge High School, Namvedt said."