By Lisa R. RhodesMarch 25, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - Logan Crew would rather solve a complex math problem than play a video game or shoot hoops.
"Math is something that I'm good at," the 17-year-old Meade High School senior said. "I really enjoy it. It's fun."
Logan attributed a passion for math as one of the reasons why he and the other 11 members of the high school math club won first-place overall in the 2010-2011 Anne Arundel County High School Mathematics Competition on March 5 at Anne Arundel Community College.
During the subsequent awards ceremony, Meade was presented with a trophy and certificate for most-improved school.
"I think it's a wonderful accomplishment," said Arthur Brock, a Meade High math teacher who has advised the club for the past nine years.
Although the math club has competed in the annual contest since the 1980s, it last won in the 1990s.
As the top-scoring individual in the competition, Logan was one of six students to receive the Donald Wertz Memorial Book Award from the college. The award, given to first- through sixth-place winners, was a math book.
"It feels fantastic," said Logan, a member of the math team for four years and a student in the high school's International Baccalaureate program.
Logan said he earned second place in the contest during his sophomore year and came in third last year.
"I'm really happy," he said. "It shows how I've developed as a mathematician."
The combination of Logan's abilities and the quality and skill of the other team members helped the high school earn first place, said Brock. The team practiced once a week during the competition and studied questions from past contests.
"I believe this is just one example of how the students and faculty at Meade High School are well on the way to fulfilling our mission of becoming a premier high school in the state of Maryland," said Rebecca Goss, chairwoman of the school's math department.
The annual competition is organized and hosted by Anne Arundel Community College. Students from 15 public and private schools participated in the contest, which began last October. The contest is comprised of five matches that are played over the course of five months. The matches are divided into two phases.
In the first phase, students work individually to answer as many of the six math questions provided during the 30-minute time limit. The questions cover a broad range of subjects, including pre-calculus, algebra, arithmetic, geometry, statistics and probability. No calculators are allowed in the first round.
In the second phase, students work in teams of up to five members. Each member tries to answer another set of six questions in 30 minutes. Calculators are permitted in this round.
The scores for each school are computed by adding the best team score to the average of the top three individuals' scores.
Logan turned in perfect sores in all five rounds. The Meade math club won the contest with a score of 46.0 points, one-third of a point over Severna Park High School.
"We're making a name for Meade and getting rid of all the false assumptions," said Matthew Wilmes, 17, a senior who is an IB student and enrolled in Project Lead The Way, a national program that prepares students for careers in science, engineering and technology. "People think we're not very smart, that we're not exactly college-bound. ... But it really is a good school."
Goss said winning the prestigious competition reflects the potential of Meade students. "Despite the challenges some of our students face, they show a tenacity and desire to achieve that -- although not news to us -- seems to surprise people who are outside of the Meade family."
Research shows that the two most important determining factors in future academic success are the participation in extracurricular activities and the level of mathematics achieved, Goss said.
"Math cultivates critical thinking skills. Math is everywhere. Math is power," she said.
Most of the Meade High seniors on the team aspire to careers in engineering, computer science and mathematical analysis.
A new group of students will compete next year. "There are three or four students who came to the practices who may make up next year's team," Brock said. "These are students who are really good."