April 17, 2021

Going to nationals

PCM eighth-grader qualifies for MathCon national competition

Since third grade, Jacob Buys has been pushing himself in the study of math. The PCM eighth-grader put in the time and effort to excel in the subject and is now being rewarded with a trip to MathCon, a national student math competition.

Held virtually in 2021, MathCon is an innovative mathematics platform, including a competition series and educational resources and opportunities for students and educators, developed to enhance mathematics education. Buys qualified for the competition by scoring in the top 10 percent of scorers from across the county.

“Every year our ELP teacher, Mr. Adams, will have the qualifying test for all of the ELP students if they want to take it. We take the 30 or so question test that is a mix of different types of math and if you score high enough then you qualify for MathCon,” Buys said. “This year (nationals) is online May 1 instead of going to Chicago. Because of COVID restrictions it is all online which really stinks because I wanted to go to Chicago.”

Buys is the only competitor from PCM this year but the school has a rich history of sending qualifiers in its five years participating.

“Evan Johnson qualified for the finals in 2017 and 2018. Evan, Dillon Jenkins and Trey Thomas all qualified last year but the finals were canceled because of COVID,” PCM ELP Teacher Brian Adams said. “Jacob will be competing against the best from around the country May 1.”

Not surprising, math is Buys favorite subject. After struggling in some areas while learning in elementary school, he took it upon himself to master the numbers and problems before him.

“I’ve been working every day to get better at math because my multiplying and dividing were horrible,” Buys said. “I’d have my best friend and I, we’d do flashcard after flashcard for about 40 minutes straight every day. We’d just keep going over those. Then, it would just gradually make things easier and easier after a while.”

The work paid off and when moving into middle school, Buys was able to test out of sixth grade math and advance his studies. Currently, he is taking geometry, typically first offered in high school.

“I am really proud of Jacob for how well he did in the qualifying round and I am very confident he will represent PCM really well in May at the finals,” Adams said. “I know he has worked really hard in the area of math over the last few years and qualifying for the finals this year is the culmination of all of that hard work. I couldn’t be happier for him.”

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com