Ferndale School District Hosts 27th Annual Math Olympiad

Math Olympiad pre-competition instructions during group gathering

The 27th Annual Ferndale School District Math Olympiad event was held in February at Cascadia Elementary School.

The math competition brings teams of students from district middle and elementary schools together for a day of math competition, giving participants valuable math and problem-solving experiences.

“These types of competitions expose students to a world of math that isn’t typically taught at their grade level, including the team aspect,” said Central Elementary teacher and Math Olympiad coordinator Sarah Steele. “Students learn that problem solving happens in groups and they are better together.”

The 2019 Math Olympiad, held February 7, featured approximately 150 students with participants from each of the district’s elementary and middle schools, as well as Lummi Nation School.

Preparation for Math Olympiad typically starts during the fall each year as coaches begin working with interested students during once-per-week practices beginning in October or November. Skill building practices typically take place prior to Winter Break, before coaches begin forming team groups for the event and incorporating team training aspects.

Though Math OFSD Math Olympiad Coacheslympiad is a program for elementary and middle school students, high school students have also been involved in the event during recent years by assisting with test writing and scoring. This year, a high school student designed the event graphic for the awards and printed program as well.

Students participating in Math Olympiad take individual and team tests as a way to build math skills in a variety of settings across a several math categories.

The individual tests feature 30 questions, with 30 minutes to answer as many questions as possible. The first team test, mental math, features math problems read aloud by a proctor. Students work to calculate answers without the assistance of calculators, scratch paper or help from peers. Other team test sections feature algebra, geometry, probability and potpourri with students working in teams of three or four to answer questions.

“I love the fact that students are getting excited about math and they are learning different math skills and ways math can be incorporated in real life,” Steele said.

To run the event each year, coaches, proctors, test writers, scorers, and many other volunteers work together in preparation and event support over the course of the four-hour Math Olympiad competition day.Ferndale School District students competing at Math Olympiad

“I value the community’s support of this event,” Steele said. “Volunteers are a vital part of its success, and this competition can’t be run without everyone who contributes.”

The event concludes with an awards presentation each year to celebrate the hard work by the students with individual and team ribbons distributed by FSD administrators and school board members.

“Math Olympiad is an important tradition in Ferndale,” said Ferndale School District Superintendent Dr. Linda Quinn. “Generations of students have participated in this event and I am proud to see it now in its 27th year. Thank you to all of the staff, parents and community members who have contributed to this event and, of course, I want to send a special note of congratulations to all of the participants. Job well done!”

Click to view a Math Olympiad photo gallery.