SIUE hosts hundreds of high school students in mathematics contest

Roughly 400 high school students competed in the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics Contest at SIUE.

Four hundred high school students gathered at SIUE on February 22 to compete in algebra, geometry and pre-calculus events at the annual Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics Contest.

The university hosted the event, which was run by approximately 75 volunteers including SIUE faculty, students, Scott Air Force Base employees and high school teachers, among others.

Mathematics and statistics professor Tammy Voepel, also coordinator of the event, said it went well and she appreciated the volunteers.

“It was a great event for the students, but we could not have done it without the help of the volunteers,” Voepel said. “Talking with the volunteers throughout the day, they said the day went well and they appreciated the opportunity to give back to the community… Everyone remarked that things went smoothly.  It was a successful event for the high school students.”

The event, according to Voepel, is a great form of outreach for prospective students who came from 18 high schools–some as far away as Quincy.

“They’re high school students who are strong in mathematics—It’s a good recruitment event for the department and university,” Voepel said.

Voepel said organizing the event was time-consuming because the competition involved four divisions of schools based on size.  Additionally, the number of schools participating has increased since she started coordinating the program 14 years ago.

“The classrooms in which the students are testing are getting more crowded…,” Voepel said. “In earlier years we may have had 20-30 students in a room and now we have 58 students in rooms that have a capacity or 60 students.”

Mathematics and Statistics Department Chair Adam Weyhaupt said it was nice to see so many students interested in math and he noticed that alumni are coming back bringing teams of students.

“It’s great to see our alumni moving from students to teachers and then bringing students back to us,” Weyhaupt said.

The day consisted of testing in Peck Hall from 9 a.m.-noon.  The students participated in individual tests, team tests and an oral competition in which four faculty members judged students as they presented their solutions to a set of problems. Two award ceremonies were held at the end of the event.

Andrew Bartlett, professor of mathematics and statistics and volunteer at the event, said he enjoyed the opportunity to honor students “excelling in mathematics.”

“It was great to celebrate students participating in mathematics and who were excited about mathematics. The kids showed great sportsmanship, were enthusiastic and had a good attitude,” Bartlett said.

Qualifying students of Saturday’s contest will advance to the state level mathematics competition to be held in May at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. SIUE was one of 22 regional sites throughout the state that hosted the contest.



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