Academy of Innovation sweeps math competition

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Benjamin Talbot walked away from the fourth annual math competition the same way is brother did a few years back: victorious.

The seventh-grade Academy of Innovation student was pitted against 65 other seventh and eighth graders from area schools in a competition sponsored by the U.S. Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District and the Vicksburg chapter of the Society of American Military Engineers as a precursor to the MATHCOUNTS competition.

Talbot’s brother, Trevor Talbot, a junior at Warren Central High School won the same competition during his middle school years.

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Brandon Davis, a facilitator for the competition, said the curriculum is based on MATHCOUNTS, which comes up with the problems, and SAME organizes the event and provides snacks for the students.

“The schools decide who they want to bring to the competition,” he said. “It varies depending on how many they want to bring. When it gets to the team competition, the school selects the top four that they want to participate.”

Sixty-six seventh- and eighth-grade competitors represented Academy of Innovation, Porters Chapel Academy, St. Aloysius High School, Vicksburg Junior High School and Warren Central High School.

Corps of Engineers Chief Engineer and SAME President Henry Dulaney said the organization is very committed to growing the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field, especially at the junior high level.

“We’re proud that we’re able to support the math competition because it’s critical that we grow the STEM field,” he said. “We want to expose them at the junior high level when they’re making the choices about what classes they’re going to take in high school. This is important.”

Benjamin Talbot of Academy of Innovation placed first in the individual competition, and Academy of Innovation eighth-graders Tuan Dang and Connor Mullins placed second and third, respectively.

Academy of Innovation also took home the prize for the team competition with seventh-grader Landon Pettway rounding out the team with Talbot, Dang and Mullins.

Academy of Innovation teacher Martha Hebert described the sweeping victory as incredible.

“We told the students, ‘do your best and have fun,’” she said. “That’s the most important thing. I told them we were going to celebrate whether we won or lost.”

To prepare, Hebert said students were given a test and those who scored the highest were invited to participate. Six seventh graders and five eighth graders represented the Academy of Innovation.

“The students got together, in the last two weeks, two or three times a week, and they worked together with problems that we thought might be of the same style that would be on the test,” she said. “The kids really did it. They worked together, and they discussed how to get the answer and different strategies because we all think differently.”

Talbot said he was both happy and surprised.

“It’s cool,” he said of winning the competition as a seventh grader.

Talbot said he’s considering a career in engineering, just like his father.