TJ Varsity Math Team: Encouraging Generations of Young Mathletes
A unique introductory math tournament meant to break down barriers to math competition by emphasizing learning, collaboration, and fun, TJ Varsity Math Team’s Intermediate Math Open (TJIMO) is one of TJ’s trademark outreach events. This spring’s tournament was held on campus for the first time since 2013.
For twenty-eight years, TJIMO has brought middle school students to TJ (or, during the school’s renovation, to Glasgow MS) for a special day of competitive math that is at least as much about team-building as it is about winning. Area middle schools are invited to send up to seven students each to TJIMO, with schools accepted on a first-come first-served basis. Students are then grouped to create diverse teams that include both experienced and inexperienced participants, with no two students from one school placed on the same team.
On Saturday, March 4th, eight VMT officers and 35 other VMT student volunteers, assisted by team sponsor and Math teacher Margaret Coffey, Math teacher Pat Gabriel, and a few parent volunteers, welcomed 100 middle schoolers to TJ’s cafeteria. After the “individual round,” participants were placed on one of 18 teams with three or four other students. The two VMT “coaches” assigned to each team then spent the morning coaching their respective teams through “warm-up” problems.
After lunch, the teams tackled a “power” round, with problems from a selected topic; a “team” round, where teams collaborated on a set of harder questions; a “guts” round, where teams submitted answers to sets of progressively more difficult questions; and an “orienteering” round, where students answered math questions that helped them navigate from room to room around the school – an exercise quite a bit more challenging than it was the last time the tournament was hosted at TJ. The contest concluded with an awards ceremony.
As VMT Secretary Aaditya Singh, TJ ’19, explained, the experience of working with high school mentors is one of the most meaningful aspects of the tournament: “TJIMO offers a great opportunity for middle school students of all math levels to come together and further their interest in math while working with VMT student coaches who were in their shoes a few years ago.”
Mrs. Coffey couldn’t have been more proud of the VMT Officers who ran the event. “Their creativity, organization, collaboration, and cheerfulness in coping with whatever problems arise is peerless,” she said.
2016-2017 VMT Officers
Akshaj Kadaveru, TJ ’18 – Captain
Harry Han, TJ ’17 – Co-Captain
Jeffery Yu, TJ ’18 – Co-Captain, TJIMO Lead Organizer
Katherine Cheng, TJ ’18 – Statistician
William Xu, TJ ’17 – Statistician
Michael Yang, TJ ’18 – Finance Officer
Wendy Yin, TJ ’18 – Finance Officer
Aaditya Singh, TJ ’19 – Secretary