Middle school’s math club ranks high in Colorado

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Nearly 20 students take part in Mathcount’s National Math Club each year, and it’s putting them ahead of the game.

“So many jobs that these guys are going to take potentially in the future don’t even exist yet,” said Phillip Hutcherson, gifted magnet program math teacher at West Middle School.

These students are learning equations many don’t learn until 8th grade.

“Like the Pythagorean Theorem. A² + B² = C² is a pretty simple equation that a lot of people know,” said 12-year-old Aidan Janney, a 7th grader at West Middle School.

The club is open to all students at West Middle School.

“Like Pythagorean triples, which is a set of three numbers that are all relating to each other,” Janney said.

“If you are trying to simplify a fraction and you don’t know if 97 is prime or a composite, you can think if you know your primes, you’re like, ‘Oh, 97 is prime.’ So, you can’t reduce it,” said 12-year-old Judson Brau, a 6th grader.

Apart from local and state competitions, students have one main project they work on each year.

“They have to go around the community and take pictures of a specific list of math concepts around the school and around the community. And then they have to create from scratch, their own math problems that involve detailed critical thinking,” Hutcherson said.

“All you’re looking for is that end goal and everything that it takes from the beginning to the end. You just need to be able to persevere through that. Sometimes it’s hard and you just get nervous and kind of tired of it I guess, but you really need to be able to think about the end goal that you’re going to be able to accomplish,” said 12-year-old Shannon Howarth, another 6th grader.

These students compete against 4,000 clubs across the country.

Nearly 150 of them are recognized at the gold level.

If West Middle School wins the gold this year, it will be their 10th consecutive year.

West Middle School also holds the second longest gold level streak in the nation.

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