Working on math problems might not be everyone's idea of a good time but for one Vicenza Middle School student the challenge is welcomed.
"Math is something that has always been easy for me," said Andrew Constable, eighth grader. Constable recently placed fourth in a state-level competition of MathCounts among other Department of Defense Dependent School in Europe students. He was one of two Vicenza students who qualified to enter in the competition and will be traveling to Washington, D.C. next month for the national competition.
This was Constable's first opportunity to compete in the MathCounts competition since arriving in Vicenza last year.
"I had participated in other math competitions but never in MathCounts," Constable said. He started taking part in MathCounts because it was "free food and math" during lunch once a week.
"When I got to the airport for state competition and saw the kids from Aviano with binders I felt intimidated and thought that I hadn't prepared enough," Constable said. But it all added up when get qualified for the D.C. competition.
The competition uses basic skills from sixth grade math to geometry, which Constable is currently doing for classroom work is two years beyond the average math work for his age. During the team rounds competitors can use calculators but the rest of the work must be done by hand or in one's head. According to Constable, many of the problems they give were tricky, so paying attention is important.
Andrew's mother, Susan Constable, encouraged him at young age to use math and introduced him to baking measurements when he was 2 years old.
"He quickly grasped the concept, which was remarkable for his young age," Susan said.
The national competition has corporate sponsors including Northrop Grumman, Texas Instruments and Raytheon. These companies often offer future scholarship and internship programs to competition participants. MathCounts is currently in its 30th year and nearly six million students have participated in the program.
Four students from each state, U.S. territory and the DoDDS schools will be represented at the national competition -- for those of us bad at math that would be 224 people total.