For some, tests at school are something to be dreaded, even run from, but for at least 50 students on the West Ranch High School campus on Tuesday, a math test was something done for fun and voluntarily after class had let out.
For the first time in the West Ranch Math Club’s history, the group of students who enjoy discussing and solving math problems were able to spread their joy involving arithmetic via a two-part test divided into speed and accuracy portions.
“To be honest, I’ve never seen so much excitement and participation in our Math Club. This is about my eighth year being advisor for our Math Club here,” said Danae Towne, math teacher and advisor for the West Ranch Math Club. “We’ve had a regular five to 10 students at a time participating and competing, but I’ve never seen so much involvement this year.”
According to Math Club President Alyssa Chang, a junior at West Ranch, one of the primary reasons for there being more involvement in the Math Club, and why 50 people signed up for the Math Open, was that the test was made more accessible to younger grades than previous international competition tests.
“Math Open at West Ranch, or MOWR for short, is a high school math competition that our officer board decided to create this year to make the math competition environment a bit more fun and easier for students,” said Chang. “And it’s a more welcoming environment because usually competitions take place at a national or international level, and that’s usually very difficult for students to compete in.”
Taking the problems a notch down allows the students to complete the two sections in a little under an hour. All those who participated in the event received a gift card, and then further, larger, prizes were given to those who won.
Chang said it is her hope that, with this being West Ranch’s Math Open, eventually the competition will be able to go districtwide.
“I’ve been a part of math competitions since elementary school, so I’ve always been qualifying for internationals and things like that…and I realize that not everybody’s had the same experience as me,” said Chang, later adding: “I just hope that the problems, the level of difficulty, can help students feel more confident in their math interest, since most of the students that are participating today are interested in math.
“So, we just want students to gain that passion that I personally had for a long time,” she added.