First Keith Moore Math Competition Equals Success

August 4, 2016

By Jake Weber

Students from six different high schools in southern Michigan got a day off from school in May to compete in Albion College’s first W. Keith Moore Math Competition. The students competed both as individuals and teams, with pencil-and-paper quizzes and even a math scavenger hunt that took them across campus.

According to Ellen Kamischke, visiting assistant professor and organizer of the competition, a number of Michigan institutions host competitions—but the vast majority are either for middle-school students or high school juniors and seniors.

“There was nothing specifically aimed at the ninth- and 10th-grade students,” says Kamischke, noting that Albion’s Moore Competition is exclusively for this group. “Having a competition such as ours will help bridge the gap between the middle-school contests and the more advanced competitions.”

Coming to campus is another draw that Kamischke believes will grow the Moore Competition. “There are online competitions for all levels of students, but the experience of traveling as a team and working together in a team competition provides a different experience,” she says. “The only other event that high school students travel to is the University of Michigan Flint Math Field Day.”

Albion’s competition honors Keith Moore, a member of the Mathematics Department from 1952 to 1986. Although none of the College’s current Mathematics and Computer Science faculty taught with Moore, Quantitative Studies Center Director Karla McCavit says, “When Department members were thinking about an appropriate name for the competition, it seemed natural to honor Dr. Moore. Many of our alumni had strong ties with Keith, and we wanted to recognize the lasting impression of his teaching and work at the College.”

“It’s a chance to focus on math for a day,” says Detroit Country Day School math teacher Ross Arseneau, noting that his students turned in other homework early in order to participate. “We do about 30 competitions during the year, and it’s nice to travel on a beautiful day.”

“I’m really proud of my students. They put forth their best effort and that was the goal for us,” said Rachel Kamischke, ’11, daughter of Ellen and math teacher at Arts Academy in the Woods, in Fraser.

“I wanted them to see more interesting math than we do in class and I wanted them to see a college campus,” Kamischke said, noting that the competition was a first for her students. “It was a great day and lots of fun.”