By Kathleen Schultz
Sauk Valley Media
Quickly: When Bob exercises, he does jumping jacks for 5 minutes and then walks the track at 4 minutes per lap. If he exercised for 73 minutes on Monday, how many laps did he walk?
OK, try this: What number is 17 less than its negative? Express your answer as a decimal to the nearest tenth.
These are just a few of the questions 53 middle-schoolers from six area schools had to answer Feb. 15 in their quest to advance to the state Mathcounts competition.
Topics included probability, statistics, linear algebra and polynomials. Answers were provided in written tests and fast-paced verbal matches.
The No. 1. team, Byron Middle School, and the two individuals not on the first-place team, in this case, Kirsten Tunik and Alex Harvey, will represent the area at the state contest, which will be held March 8 in Lisle.
The second- through fourth-place finishers of the annual contest, held at Sauk Valley Community College, were St. Anne School in Dixon, Rochelle Middle School and St. Mary School Dixon. Morrison Junior High School and St. Mary School in Sterling also participated.
The first through fourth-place individual winners were Eric Hoshaw Buck of Byron Middle School; Tunink, of St. Anne, Harvey, of Rochelle Middle School, and Drake Farster of St. Mary in Dixon.
Winners at state will go on to compete in the national competition, to be held May 9 in Orlando, Fla.
Mathcounts, now in its 28th year, is a national enrichment competition program that promotes middle school mathematics achievement through grassroots involvement in every U.S. state and territory.
The Rock River Chapter of the Illinois Society of Professional Engineers sponsors the local program and organizes the competition to recognize achievement in mathematics skills among middle and junior high school students. Scott E. Brown with Wendler Engineering in Dixon provided the information for this article.
(The answers, by the way, are 17 laps, and -8.5.)