Math is More Than Just Numbers

Charles Wang, Staff Writer

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Math is one of the hardest subjects. It may seem like knowing math will have no impact on your life. Is it even worth trying to do well at it in school?  It’s certainly not something someone would do for fun, right? 

The Hall math team brings a new perspective to arithmetics. This dedicated group of students meet after school on Mondays in their advisor’s room to prepare for the six meets that occur throughout the year. While drilling math problems after school may seem mundane, the math team – under the direction of teacher Thomas Ledvorowski – works with more than just numbers. 

What Olivia Fan ‘20, president of the Hall math team, enjoys most about the math team is meeting new people who find solving cool problems as interesting as she does.  Mr. Led attests to this, agreeing that he appreciates seeing kids do math, not because they are forced to in class, but because they truly love doing it. 

These kids love it so much, they give up one Wednesday a month to compete.  Hall’s math team came back from their first meet on Wednesday, October 2, where they performed very well competing against schools across Connecticut.  The meet, called CAML, is made of five individual rounds and a team round. The five rounds each have a specific topic that students know beforehand and, thus, can prepare for. After the five rounds, five students from each school work together on a set of team round questions. 

Competitive math offers an experience that all students should cherish as, “Competition exposes students to other math ideas that aren’t traditionally found in the classroom,” Mr. Led says. 

Fan echoes this, saying that the team rounds are challenging because they require “collaboration [students] don’t find in a typical math class.”  In competitive math, young mathematicians are compelled to share a single brain when solving math problems together. Unlike team projects in other classes, students aren’t merely working on apportioned parts to create a final product because each step in a math procedure requires students to merge their thinking and solve the problem together. 

The math team is not only a place to compete in math and get high ranks; it’s also a place to learn and have fun. Typical math doesn’t require much more than a pencil and a piece of paper, but competitive math brings mathematical reasoning and social skills together. When hundreds of students meet to compete at CAML, students can socialize and do more than just solve bland math problems by themselves. 

This is actually a much more effective way of getting better at math than continuously doing textbook problems that you have no interest in. Ultimately, through participation in the math team, the subject can become a much more interesting and a simpler subject to learn and do at school. 

Mr. Led and Fan hope that more people will be interested in joining the math team. Competitive math is not just for people who are “good” at math; it’s for anyone who enjoys it or wants to solve cool problems and have a good time with their friends. This year’s current members hope to qualify for states like they’ve done in past years, and possibly even make it to regionals.