Pocahontas Schools Hold Math Field Day at the Observatory – Part 1
Every year, the Pocahontas County celebrates its most accomplished Math students in grades 4 through 9, by holding a very competitive Math Field Day. This year’s Field Day was held at the Green Bank Observatory on Tuesday, November 29th. And the Math program at the Pocahontas County Schools had a lot to celebrate this year. In 15-16, Pocahontas County Schools were 6th in Math scores out of 55 counties in the state for students in grades 3-11, and were first in RESA IV (even Greenbrier!) The county’s 9th graders were first in the entire state in math.
The primary organizer of this year’s Math field Day is Joanna Bert-Kinderman, who is the Math Coach for Pocahontas County Schools. Joanna deserves a lot of the credit for those scores – along with the entire Math faculty and students. Joanna tells us about the Math Field Day’s competitive events
“Math Field Day is exciting in West Virginia” said Joanna. “I actually just learned via an old friend of mine from high school that West Virginia has the biggest Math Field Day competition in the country. Math Field Day is a contest with a variety of different competitions – a written test, some skills with mental math and some skills with estimation. And so the kids spend the day taking a variety of contests. Then we determine some winners.”
Joanna also talks about “Krypto” a separate competition from the formal Math Field Day competition.
“Ages ago we used to have a card game tournament called ‘combo’” said Joanna. “The cards (now) are called ‘Krypto’ –I’m not sure why, in the 80’s we all called it Combo, but we brought that back about 4 years ago and we have some wonderful business sponsors in our local banks who offer up some prizes to make that fun. We’ve had wonderful support from Pendleton Community Bank, from City National Bank and from Citizens Bank of West Virginia, so we really appreciate all three of those banks. And so the kids will be in that contest shortly here working hard at that while we score the tests.”
Joanna describes her overall hopes for the Pocahontas County Schools’ Math program.
“Math Field Day is a lovely celebration of one part of what we are trying to do with Math” Joanna says. “But we really are trying to gear up the fun and the energy in Math classes and Math activities throughout students’ lives. And we just really just appreciate the support of our administrators and we really appreciate our parent community. We know that to be number one in the State, which is our goal. We were number 6 this year and we’d like to be number 1 in 55 counties and we need our parents’ help, particularly in elementary grades to start playing some Math games with their children at home. We’re really close to doing the best of anybody in the state at Math.”
Laurel Dilley, a Math and Computer Science Teacher at PCHS, talks about Math Field Day.
“I am helping in the Mental Math and Estimation Computation Room and it’s one of the high pressure tests that the kids have to take” said Laurel. “And for the mental part, the question is just read out loud to them and they have 20 seconds to do really hard problems. They have to get them completely right in their head. They can only put down their answer, no work, no scratch-out, no erasures – and kind of the same thing for the Estimation computation, but the problems are harder, so they just have to be within 10% of it. So, it’s really exciting to see kids really excited about Math and nervous and really wanting to get then right answers.”
Laurel also talked about how she started up the Computer Science classes at PCHS last year, and all the help she got from Joanna Bert-Kinderman and from Ray Creager of the Observatory, but we will cover this in detail in a future story.
We also talked with several of the upper class high school students who were assisting with running the Math Field Day, including Brandon Wilfong, a senior at PCHS who talks about his Computer Science class.
“I am taking computer science and computer Programming and I am going to be taking college algebra” said Brandon. “Computer Programming is very helpful. It opens up a world of opportunities for me because the future of jobs is in computers. I am very glad to take that.”
Brandon talks about the importance of Math for everyone.
“Math is very important, it is in everything that we do today, no matter if it’s science, history, everything” Brandon says.” It helps you succeed by becoming a better problem solver. It lets the job opportunities just roll in because if your good at math you can do pretty much anything, whether it’s Engineering or working in the computer field…anything.”
In part 2 of this story we will talk to some other students and give you the complete list of this year’s County Math Day winners.