Calculations take center stage in this competition

Calculations take center stage in this competition

Tina MacIntyre-Yee, Staff writer

April 5, 2014

Math — all types of it — was the problem.

And they welcomed it.

Middle school students from across the country came to Rochester to compete over two days in the National Math Competition for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students. The event was held Friday and Saturday at National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology.

During the final individual rounds Saturday afternoon, the finalists — with pencil in one hand and buzzer in the other — tried calculating their answer while students behind them signed to each other what they thought was the correct answer.

“I’m learning lots of stuff, the competition is really cool,” eighth-grader John Smart of Bellingham, Wash., said through a sign-language interpreter.

“I really love math and I wanted to join,” said seventh-grader Franco Bippus of Fishers, Ind., the second-place winner in the individual countdown competition.

“It’s really fun,” said Bippus, 13, adding that he got to meet a lot of people and made a lot of friends from other schools.

Courtney Skjeveland, 13, of Carmel, Ind., reacts after giving a wrong answer at the National Math Competition for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students held Saturday at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT.

The competition, now in its ninth year, was created to encourage students to do better in math, Mark Sommer, senior director of NTID’s Outreach Consortium, said through an interpreter. He said students who have math competition in schools tend to improve, and it also gives students a chance to socialize with other deaf and hard-of-hearing students from other schools, show what’s offered at NTID, and start them thinking about their college majors.

In addition to hosting the competition, NTID pays for the students’ hotel and food cost; the schools have to pay for their transportation, he said.

“I thought it was great for the deaf community to get together and to compete with each other,” seventh-grader Nevan Graves, 12, of Austin, Texas, said through an interpreter. Nevan finished first in the individual countdown.

“I love they get to see other middle school-aged kids who love math and do well in math,” said Dawn Kidd of Austin, one of the coaches at Graves’s school, Texas School for the Deaf. She said they are “sometimes looked at as a nerd,” but when there are “so many other peers doing well academically, not so nerdy.”

Kidd, a middle school mathematics teacher, said the competition raises academic awareness in their school.

Aidan DiDomenico, 13, of Penfield was last year’s individual winner; he came in fourth place this year. While he won’t be able to compete next year because of aging out, he hopes to come back to RIT as a student.

“I know I’m still in middle school, but I’m planning to come here for college,” Aidan said.

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