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Paper, pencil and brainpower add up for Bob Jones mathematicians

Bob Jones High School students used only pencil, scratch paper and the test sheet, along with brilliant minds, for national ranking in a math competition.

Bob Jones reached the Top 25 nationally in the Ciphering Time Trials, a National Assessment contest. The Top 25 represented schools across the United States and in Canada. The top three teams were from New Jersey, California and Ontario.

Bob Jones freshmen who competed were Crystal Ganatra, Jenny Shen, Tina Tian and Victoria Van, along with sophomores Dennis Dergunov and Lakshmi Subramani.

Juniors included Chauncey Scales, Claire Zhang, Kenneth Fu, Martin Wang, Rain Li, Tori Florence and Yoo-Jung Yang. Senior team members were Briana Miller, Chris Elegante, Eileen Lambert, Eric Dong, Karen Fang and Paul Barrett.

Grissom and Hoover high schools were the only other Alabama schools in the Top 25.

The ciphering contest consists of 10 rounds. Students have three minutes to answer three, free-response questions covering topics from arithmetic to calculus, Kimberly Cox said. Cox and Shaun Bardell are math team coaches.

One question read: “What is the sum of the values of k between 0 and 100 inclusive satisfying k = 13mod17?”

In individual achievements, Chris Elegante compiled a score that placed him in the competition’s Top 25 students. “Chris answered 30 free-response questions in 10 three-minute rounds. His scores were compared with other seniors nationwide,” Cox said.

Ciphering Time Trials emphasize self-assessment and prioritization. “Students must decide which questions to attempt, based upon topics covered and levels of difficulty,” Cox said.

In 2011, Bob Jones reached 24th place in the Top 25 but advanced to 17th place this year.

National Assessment does not limit the number of students who take the test. “Each student takes the test individually. Our team score is the sum of the top score from each grade 9-12,” Cox said.

Cox teaches pre-calculus and calculus A. Also teaching pre-calculus, Bardell has an algebra III with stats class. “We hope to teach ‘math team pre-calculus next year,” Cox said.

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