BUTTE — Students from across the nation sat down this week with sharp pencils and even sharper minds for the annual MATHCOUNTS competition, and 44 of those students are from southwest Montana. They gathered on the campus of Montana Tech on Tuesday, Feb. 6, for the first round of testing to determine who will head to the state competition.
"Usually you picture math, people kind of like sitting in their little dark corners doing equations, and math is fun! And this competition just really highlights that," says Chelsea Loomis, MATHCOUNTS chapter coordinator and event emcee.
The southwest Montana chapter welcomed students from Butte, Dillon, and Montana City. Loomis says all of the students were at the competition of their own volition. The event includes several hours of testing in the morning followed by a live round with timed problems and an audience looking on.
"I study a lot but it kind of comes naturally to me," says Liam Boese, an eighth grader from East Middle School in Butte.
Boese made it to the final round of a live competition—the fun competition that didn’t actually count towards the participants' final scores. But even after listing off several correct answers in a row, he appeared pretty calm as he made some slight gestures to celebrate his correct answers. Still, he seemed pretty stoic after his first-round victory.
Does it even phase him when he gets the answer right?
"It feels really good because your brain is like, 'Yeah, Let’s go! Woohoo!' And, like, you’re celebrating inside but you just act really serious when you get it," says Boese.
After almost an hour, a winner in the speed round emerged and, like Boese, the winner was pretty stoic.
What does he think about math? Is math fun?
"Ahhhh. With like these [competitions], I find fun with my friends and stuff, but I don’t like taking tests in school and stuff like that," says Tysee Todorovich of Montana City.
After securing the victory, Todorovich was swarmed by his friends, some of whom took place individual awards from their earlier tests.
"These students are here; they're sitting down taking these tests for fun! They’re learning math facts for fun and it just really sets them up for success in a STEM career," says Loomis.
Montana City students took home first place in the team competition, followed by East Middle School and Butte Central. Butte will host the state MATHCOUNTS competition on Monday, March 11, 2024.