Math Meet offers challenge, glimpse of the future for high school students - Apr 4, 2012 - Mathematics and Computer Science Department - UW-Superior News and Events

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Mathematics and Computer Science Department

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Math Meet offers challenge, glimpse of the future for high school students

Posted on Apr 4, 2012
A UW-Superior tradition offers high school students an academic challenge and a glimpse of college life.

By Elizabeth Reichert
University Relations student writer

Each spring for more than four decades, high school students from northwestern Wisconsin and northeastern Minnesota have gathered at the University of Wisconsin-Superior to match wits by solving equations and finding probabilities. On April 25th more than 100 high school students will renew that tradition once again when they gather for the annual Math Meet hosted by the Mathematics and Computer Science Department.

"It's a fun event - a good combination of a social event and fun with math in a format that is not as dry as the lecture hall. The competition appeals to many," said Dr. Uwe Leck, associate professor of the mathematics at UW-Superior.

Enjoying the challenge

Sharon Peterson, mathematics teacher at Rice Lake High School, agreed. "Students really enjoy using their math and challenging themselves," she said.

Peterson said her favorite part of Math Meet is "the ability to take your kids out of the high school and to be with the other kids who are interested in math."'

Changing with the times

Peterson appreciates how Math Meet organizers have adjusted the events, problems and difficulty level to reflect current updates in high school curriculum, such as the addition of calculus.

"They're problems they can solve," she said. "They're a challenge but they can see some success."

An array of questions

In Math Meet, teams of eight students from each high school compete as a group and as individuals to solve an array of problems in geometry, calculus, algebra and analytic geometry, trigonometry and elementary functions, and probability and statistics. Events are timed, and problems call for multiple choice or short answer responses. All problems are written by UW-Superior faculty members.

Winners of individual events receive a $100 savings bond, and top finishers receive a Math Meet T-shirt. Winning teams receive a trophy while top finishers receive a plaque.

Less tangible but just as important, the students get a chance to shine in a subject that isn't always considered glamorous by their classmates. And they get a taste of university life and advanced mathematics.

Math Meet 'invaluable'

Dr. Peter Nordgren, Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Outreach at UW-Superior, participated in Math Meet as a high school student in 1969.

"It was invaluable to see kind of what a college level of math was," he said. "It was an eye-opening experience."

Nordgren's high school math teacher encouraged him to attend Math Meet and to meet Dr. Carroll Rusch, who was then chair of the university's mathematics program.

Nordgren found Math Meet to be influential in his career decision.

Helped shape a career

"It was part of the whole direction. The guidance I had with my high school teacher kind of sent me in this direction," he said. "It was something good for me, something that guided me to get a degree in science, which helped shape my career."

Nordgren ended up enrolling at UW-Superior and earned his bachelor's degree in biology with a minor in mathematics.

"I think the challenge is always for students to see what math is all about," he said. "Math is everywhere in our lives and has relevance to any kind of career we might have."          

News Contact: Al Miller | 715-394-8260 | amiller{atuws}
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