Math Club adds up to fun


LOJ students meet weekly to work math problems, challenge themselves

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE -  Seventh-grader Graham Kang works through a math problem with Mikaela Van Eaton's help.Lake Oswego High School senior Mikaela Van Eaton loves math, and loves even more getting other students excited about it. That’s why she volunteers each week as a math club coach at Lake Oswego Junior High. She, and fellow Lakers Abby Lyons, a junior, and senior Jason Kelley, meet each Tuesday after school with about 25 to 30 students who all share their passion for math. Math teacher Jenna Blancher supervises the program.

“Math Club is in its 10th year here,” said LOJ Principal Ann Gerson. “And over the years we have had parent coaches, student teacher coaches, but for the last few years we have had high school coaches, and that has been the best. In addition to stretching students’ math problem-solving abilities, it is also great to have high school role models who think math is the most exciting thing and make it OK to love math. It’s a social activity as well as academic.”

Van Eaton explained that club members are training for the Math Counts competition to be held in February. After that competition they will prepare for the Pentagames to be held in April.

“We’re training for the (Math Counts) competition and we go over each problem,” said Van Eaton.

Some students joked that they came for the snacks, but most admitted they truly enjoy doing math.

“I joined because math is fun and challenging,” said sixth-grader Grace Cook.

“I love math!” said Matt Leungpathomaram, who as a sixth-grader takes precalculus at Lake Oswego High. “I am excited to participate in Math Counts.”

“The high school mentors volunteer their time each week to work with our middle school Math Club kids,” said teacher Janna Blancher. “They help establish a fun environment while still challenging our students with math. The size of the club has continually grown under their leadership. Since they are here consistently and really connect with the kids, they make a love of math something that is cool and foster that relationship for our students.”

The club membership includes more boys at this point than girls, but Van Eaton and Lyons are encouraged that the number of girls participating is as high as it is. They hope that more girls will realize that math is fun and, with a little work, can be easier than they might expect.

The club meets each Tuesday from 3 to 4 p.m. in Blancher’s classroom. No registration is required and all are welcome.