Kayleigh LaneMrs. CorbettAP Literature9 April 2012 Math Tournaments When you recall elementary school, what comes to mind? For me, I remember thecountless games we played in class. In particular, I remember that fall day in my fifth grade mathclass, and the race we had on the board that determined who could finish that math problem thefastest. I remember how I loved being fought over because everyone wanted me on their team.But above all, I remember the passion I developed for mathematics. For my senior project, Icreated and hosted a math tournament because of my devotion to the field of mathematics. In general, math tournaments are a test of how well a student has grasped mathematicalconcepts. My research paper focused on the main problem facing math tournaments today, andthis problem is the information to include in them. With the new “Math 1” system of learning, Ibecame confused over what concepts are actually being taught to the student body. Therefore,this directly affected how I was going to determine what information to include in mytournament. Thankfully, from my research, I learned that even though schools are not exactly thesame, the core concepts of math per subject are still taught and, therefore, known. So, as a result,I knew what information I could use in my tournament. In addition, I also learned that eachstudent learns differently than another. So, in relation to math tournament problems, I concludedthat more than one method of testing the student was needed. I determined that a multiparttournament would be the most effective test of a student’s knowledge. Both of these realizationshelped me develop a strong base for the tournament as a whole.
Lane 2 For my project, I created and hosted the 2012 Creekview Mathacre. I actually wasinspired to do a math tournament not only from my love of mathematics, but from my experiencewith math tournaments in general. Last year, I volunteered to help out at the 2011 CreekviewMathacre held at the school. I enjoyed watching the participants get extremely excited over thesubject I loved. I knew what made me get excited over the subject, but I also was curious as towhat made math tournaments so exciting. I wanted to know what kind of work went into mathtournaments. Also, I knew that I still wanted to be a math teacher. If I could figure out why I amso interested in math tournaments, I could finally conclude if I want to pursue a career in matheducation. Therefore, the choice was clear. I wanted to do a math tournament. Once it was clear that I wanted to do a math tournament, the long process of creating itbegan. I initially told Mr. Oglesby that I wanted to do a math tournament for my senior project inthe spring of my junior year. With this, I told him how much I liked the Mathacre and all thework that was put into it. He suggested that I could create and host the 2012 Creekview Mathacrenext year. I responded quickly with an abrupt, “yes!” From there, the stage was set for my seniorproject. The preparation for the tournament began with Mr. Oglesby and me meeting anddiscussing the components of the tournament in October. He told me that there were threecomponents and that I needed to create: 25 multiple choice questions, ten ciphering questions,and one power question for the Junior Varsity portion. The varsity portion would be created withold tests and questions. He then sent me some sample problemsfrom past tournaments to developmy ideas and gave me a website for research materials as well. This initially is where the topicfor my research paper came into play because Mr. Oglesby said that the material for the JVquestions was everything up until trigonometry. The process continued from there. 2
Lane 3 When November came, I was mainly devoted to my research paper. I researched anddeveloped the question of the material used in math tournaments up until the date it was due onthe eighteenth. After this, I buckled down on the tournament questions. Right as I began though,the first problem began to surface. I was not sure how to formulate my own questions. Eventhough I knew what other teachers did and how they approached them, I needed to find my ownmedium for creating questions. In order to solve this problem, I decided to get creative and workbackwards. So, I looked up some of the sample problems I got from Mr. Oglesby and solvedthem. After I did a few, I looked at my line of thinking and process for solving each problem.From this, I developed a pattern of the way my mind perceives math questions and figured outwhat my mind emphasizes. From this information, I found out what I should focus my questionson and worked it out from there. I created the ciphering questions first, and after I created thefirst ciphering question, I gave it to Mr. Oglesby for review. He said that the problem was greatand was of an easy caliber. This was when my next problem surfaced. Math tournament questions range from easy to hard, and this was something I had to keepin mind as well. I had trouble rating how hard my questions were. Since my math skill is abovejunior varsity, what I perceive as hard and what a junior varsity participant sees as hard iscompletely different. This problem was actually resolved with the help of my friends. I askedthem to try answering the questions and rate how hard it is. I not only got a good view of howothers see math questions, but I also got an idea of what kind of questions students like to see. Irepeated this process when I started working on the multiple choice questions in late Decemberand again with the power question. Once this was done, the creating process was over and theediting process began. 3
Lane 4 Editing and eliminating questions for the tournament was not the worst part of theprocess. This process lasted relatively two weeks, and it cleared up all misunderstandings relatedto the questions and tournament. During this time, I also got to review the script that I had to sayfor the tournament as well. Preparations were complete. Finally, it was the day of the tournament, and all the work was put into play. Icoordinated the activities, directed the participants, and timed the ciphering. Also, I passed outawards and trophies to the teams and individuals. It was a long day that began early in themorning until mid-afternoon. It was rewarding, and all the hard work put into it paid off becausethe tournament did not have any major problems. It is true that I did a tremendous amount ofwork for this tournament and my senior project, but I do not think it would have been possible ifnot for my project facilitator and math teacher, Mr. Oglesby. Mr. Oglesby is currently my AP Calculus teacher and was my Honors Analysis teacherlast year. I chose him as my facilitator because he is not only enjoyable to work with, but he ishighly skilled in the field of mathematics. Also, he was the coordinator of the Mathacre in 2011,and therefore, is the best suited for the position. He helped me figure out what kind of questionsto do in the tournament, guided me on how to fix my mistakes, and showed me just how mathtournaments work. There was not a day during the process that he refused to answer a question.Mr. Oglesby was a reliable facilitator. As a whole, I gained some insight into myself due to my senior project. I learned thatunder pressure, I buckle down and get the work done. Also, I found that I do enjoy math, but I donot enjoy making questions. I found out that I want my career to involve mathematics, but notnecessarily be all of it. Through my senior project, I learned that I do not want to be a mathteacher, but I now know that I want to be in a field that involves math. Finally, I gained respect 4
Lane 5for math tournaments in general because of all the work that is put into them. I appreciate whatcoordinators have to do in order to give participants a valuable experience.Because makingquestions is not something I can see myself doing in the future, I would not pursue mathtournaments farther than I have now. It is a difficult process to go through and dedication is thekey to it. Furthermore, I learned that math tournaments are not to be taken lightly, but are to beenjoyed to the utmost extent. Therefore, I encourage you to participate in one and see what theyare all about. They are nationwide and not just at high school levels! Think of all the knowledgeand experience you will gain once you have participated in one! Math tournaments are aneducational experience that should be enjoyed by everyone. Thank you for your time. Do youhave any questions? 5