Finley MathCounts team members with their navy blue shirts.
Finley MathCounts team members with their navy blue shirts.

Finley MathCounts Team Loves a Challenge

February 9, 2024

J. Taylor Finley Middle School MathCounts team members love a really good challenge, especially one that’s mathematical. Coached by math teachers Denise Grodzicki and Abigail Simon, the group came together to form a very competitive squad.

Sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers, the MathCounts initiative is designed to generate interest in math and to provide a competitive outlet for exceptional students.

The national math coaching and competition program promotes seventh and eighth grade math achievement through grass roots involvement in all fifty states and several U.S. territories.

The mission of MathCounts is to inspire excellence, confidence and curiosity in middle school students through fun and challenging math problems. Tryouts for the team are held in late October in the form of a test. Only the top scoring students make the final squad.

More than 30 Finley students tried out for this year’s team. The top six included seventh graders Dylan Goodwin, Harrison Jennings and Gavin Kline and eighth graders Jacob Boxer, Janita Files and Henry Schmid.

The group met for months after school for one hour each week. Practice sessions center on the four types of “tests” the team faces during competition. The first test is known as the “spirit round” and consists of thirty questions that students must answer without a calculator in forty minutes. The “target round” is a series of eight questions given two at a time. Six minutes are allowed for each pair of questions and calculators can be utilized. In the “team round” four teammates work together to answer ten questions in twenty minutes.

For those whose performance qualifies, the “countdown round” features the top ten individual scorers competing against each other one-on-one by answering questions flashed on a screen.

Finley recently traveled to Great Neck North Middle School and participated in the sprint, target and team rounds consisting of a mixture of calculator vs. no calculator style problems against math wizards from Jericho, Syosset, Herricks, Great Neck and several schools from Queens.

“To secure America’s global competitiveness, Mathcounts inspires excellence, confidence and curiosity in U.S. middle school students through fun and challenging math programs,” according to the national organization’s website. “With the generous support of all MathCounts sponsors and volunteers, and the leadership of the National Society of Professional Engineers at the local and state levels, MathCounts is providing today’s students with the foundation for success in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.”