Math Counts
(From left to right) Seoul American Middle School students Michelle Roh, Jenna Weida, Kate Park and Jay Han solve a math problem during the Math Counts competition in March. The team won the DODDS contest, and Roh will compete nationally on the DODDS state team, joining three other students from Europe.

YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - Seoul American Middle School's math team won the Department of Defense Dependent Schools Math Counts competition in March, with one "mathlete" moving on to compete at the U.S. national level.

Jay Han, Kate Park, Michelle Roh and Jenna Weida beat out other DODDS' region teams to earn the honor.

In February, the team won the DODDS-Pacific title after beating 11 teams.

Roh, an eighth grader, placed second in the individual category in the worldwide meet and will represent DODDS-Pacific at nationals. She'll join three students from Europe to form the DODDS state team, which will compete for the U.S. title May 8-11 in Denver.

Kathee Lewis and Claire Park, Seoul American Middle School math teachers, coached the winning team. DODDS selected Lewis to coach the national team.

"Math Counts is a pretty big program here," Lewis said. "A lot of schools select four kids and train those four forever. We have more than 30 here. We meet every week and do these Math Counts problems and move up the sixth graders so they can compete."

Math Counts is a national program designed to help develop middle school students' interest and achievement in mathematics, according to the Math Counts organization. Math Counts helps adolescents develop teamwork skills and learning how to set and achieve goals.

The Seoul team endured three hours of math problems designed to test their speed, accuracy and problem-solving techniques.

"We would always meet after school on Wednesdays and do questions that were on previous Math Counts competitions. We would act as if we were really doing it," Roh said of her team's preparation for the local, Pacific and statewide competitions.

Lewis has coached Roh since Roh was in sixth grade. When she was in seventh grade, she was taking algebra, and is finishing geometry this year, three years ahead of the typical math student.

"I've known Michelle for three years," Lewis said. "I knew that if it was going to happen, it was going to happen this year. She was really good as a sixth grader without having had algebra or geometry. She was phenomenal last year when she was tasking algebra. So this year with geometry, we knew this was the year."

Math Counts was founded 24 years ago by the National Society of Professional Engineers, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and CNA Foundation.

"Math Counts is put on by engineers," Lewis added. "The kids who are competing are kids who may have the potential to be the next great engineer. If you were to win or be part of the team that wins, it means big scholarships and a potential future with those companies."

Participants and winners also come away with big prizes, such as scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $8,000, laptop computers and trips to Space Camp and math camps.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16