Five students from Ashland Ranch Elementary are heading to the Mathleague Elementary State Championship next month! The students are part of the school’s Math Club, and for some of them, this will be the first time they compete at an in-person event. They’ll face off with students from other schools across the state in four rounds of competition. To prepare, the students meet every Wednesday morning to practice for their big day.
“They go through old contest sets to see what types of questions are being asked,” said Lin Koch, a fourth grade teacher and co-advisor for the club.
Koch helped start the Math Club at Ashland Ranch back in 2018. The school received a letter about a math competition happening in the district, and Koch volunteered to take some students to it.
“We only had a month to get ready. We met four times, went, and many of the kids placed like third or fourth,” she said.
After their early success, Koch decided to create the club and welcomed students who wanted to do math just for fun and students who were interested in competing. She would teach them new tricks that would help them understand math concepts better.
“We did fun things like how to multiply by 11 in your head faster than a calculator. We also focused on the questions that would be at the competitions,” she said.
She’s kept the momentum going the past several years, adding new fourth through sixth grade students to the group. On Mondays, she welcomes students from the club to her classroom who want to do math just for fun. They play games and have group discussions.
“They don’t even realize that they are doing math while they are playing, but they are,” she said.
For meetings with her math competitors, Koch says that everyone, including her, learns something new. Students are often sharing higher level math skills with each other like the pythagorean theorem. She believes the competitions have helped them develop a strong appreciation for one another.
“They love it when somebody does better than them, but it also drives them to do better,” she said.