It all adds up: Calculating how Math Team succeeds

The+math+team+includes+students+grades+9+through+12.+%E2%80%9CThe+students+on+the+math+team+extend+that+knowledge+by+doing+practice+problems+directly+related+to+the+competitions%2C+but+the+groundwork+is+laid+in+the+classroom%2C%E2%80%9D+US+math+teacher+Bill+Boulger+said.
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It all adds up: Calculating how Math Team succeeds

The math team includes students grades 9 through 12. “The students on the math team extend that knowledge by doing practice problems directly related to the competitions, but the groundwork is laid in the classroom,” US math teacher Bill Boulger said.

The math team includes students grades 9 through 12. “The students on the math team extend that knowledge by doing practice problems directly related to the competitions, but the groundwork is laid in the classroom,” US math teacher Bill Boulger said.

Gabriella Seifert

The math team includes students grades 9 through 12. “The students on the math team extend that knowledge by doing practice problems directly related to the competitions, but the groundwork is laid in the classroom,” US math teacher Bill Boulger said.

Gabriella Seifert

Gabriella Seifert

The math team includes students grades 9 through 12. “The students on the math team extend that knowledge by doing practice problems directly related to the competitions, but the groundwork is laid in the classroom,” US math teacher Bill Boulger said.

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Although Math team may not have an announcement during an assembly with Spartan Boosters, or have a fan bus carrying rowdy fans to watch their competitions, they continue to compete and win. Yes, the Math Team is far from being in the limelight, but that’s not what causes the mathematicians to get together and solve problems.

Math team members require two things: mental acuity, a pencil, and self-motivation. The team does not meet frequently.

“We meet for five minutes sometimes during clubs with Mr. Boulger to get some practice problems, but besides that,” sophomore Tommy Allen said. 

The amazing thing about this is that despite individual preparation, in competitions the team brings everything together.

“We each bring our own things to the team,” Allen said.

The team delegates subjects to the students with particular strengths in that area. 

“I haven’t taken calculus yet, and other kids have. So they focus on that, and I can solve the problems in math that I am currently taking or have learned more recently,” he said.

Being part of a team that has had consistent success over years, as well as working to contribute to that success, is a real motivator for the team members”

— Bill Boulger

Competitions cover four different parts of math: Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus. Each individual student participates in two of the four events in each competition. These sections each have four problems, with a final point possibility of  seven. Therefore each student competing has the ability to earn up to 14 points total. There is also a team event with a total of six problems adding up to the total of 24 points. The team event score is combined with the individual scores of the eight scoring team members to determine the math team’s overall score. Out of the five meets there are in the math season that spans from November to February, Math Team has done well in its first so far. The team finished in first place in its division at the first meet this year. Hopefully their success will continue until the Math league State Tournament that takes place in March.

Perhaps it’s because there is an element of individualism that the team is able to do so well. The mathematicians trust each other to handle their segment, as individuals focus on what they went to the competition to do. Of course the one factor that brings them all together is Bill Boulger the key conductor in the orchestration of the math team.

Boulger began coaching the math team in 1985, which was the first year the High school math league expanded to include private schools.

“SPA’s math team success has been a direct result of the strength of the math program as it plays out daily in the classroom. The kind of explorations and problems students encounter in the classroom are great preparation for participating  in math competitions. The students on the math team extend that knowledge by doing practice problems directly related to the competitions, but the groundwork is laid in the classroom,” Boulger said.

The key to Boulgers coaching strategy is to hand  the materials and practice work to the students, and allow them to take over from there. Boulger elaborated on the motivation for coaching and participating on math team by explaining how success drives a team.

“The students who participate on the math team have an extracurricular opportunity to discuss ideas that they find interesting, to test out their ability to solve challenging problems, and represent our school in regular statewide competitions. Being part of a team that has had consistent success over years, as well as working to contribute to that success, is a real motivator for the team members,” Boulger said.

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