Math has the power to build critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities and foster a healthy spirit of competition and teamwork.
Every first Saturday in December, hundreds of young mathematicians from the Cherry Creek School District gather for the annual Rich Morrow Math Challenge. The 18th annual RMMC took place on Dec. 1 at Smoky Hill High School, and 270 students from 30 CCSD elementary schools participated in a variety of math challenges, all intended to promote of a love of perplexing mathematical puzzles. Their coaches – teachers and academic leaders in their schools – were each allowed to bring nine students (three from 3rd, 4th and 5th grade).
Volunteer teachers and parents from Challenge School welcomed the students, parents and coaches into the auditorium, and then it was off to the classrooms for the competition. First up was the individual round. The students tackled between 25 and 30 difficult math questions, such as "If you roll two standard 6-sided dice, what is the probability that the sum of the numbers is greater than 9?" or "If the pattern MATHMATHMATH continues, what would be the 2,018th letter written?"
Following the individual problems, the Team Round saw each grade-level team working together to complete between 12 and 15 challenging problems. The final round was the Relay Round, during which each grade-level team worked on one part of 15 problems, passing their answers to another grade-level team from their school so that that group could complete the next part of the question. Only if all three parts (3rd, 4th and 5th grades) were correct would the teams earn a point for each question.
Before the competition, the 30 schools broke up into three groups. After the three rounds of competition, a pizza lunch and additional math activities, the students, parents and coaches returned to the Smoky Hill auditorium for the awards assembly, presented by Challenge School teacher Matt Bixby. Three schools came out on top. In the Pythagoras Division, the Red Hawk Ridge team coached by Jennifer Lemoine took the top prize. In the Thales Division, the Dry Creek team coached by Sooni Burton finished in 1st place. The Cottonwood Creek team coached by Amy Bainbridge won the top prize in the Archimedes Division. Many students won individual and team awards for their performances; Shruti Arun from Cottonwood Creek took home the "Top Scorer" prize in this year's competition.
This annual event was founded by Challenge School teacher Rich Morrow 18 years ago as a way to encourage and inspire students to tackle tough and twisted math problems. The competition is about building critical math skills, but it's also about encouraging fun and camaraderie. The students work together in grade-level teams, using various outside-the-box problem-solving strategies. In their school practices, and as they participate in the contests, the students learn techniques that will help them throughout their academic lives and beyond into their professional lives.
Visit the Rich Morrow Math Challenge site for more information.