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Pictured: Aiden Parent, Alana Bernocal, and Cora Rajala are celebrated by their middle school classmates for taking special awards in a National Math Competition.

The Noetic Learning Math Contest is a national academic competition taking place twice a year for students in grades 2 – 8.  This past November, three Learning Bridge Middle School students: 8th grader, Aiden Parent, 7th grader, Cora Rajala, and 6th grader, Alana Bernocal received special recognition for their accomplishments in the math skills challenge, as they were the highest scoring participants in each grade level team.  Parent and Bernocal additionally earned National Honorable Mention awards for scoring in the top 50% of all students across the country.

The contest is designed to challenge elementary and middle school students and to develop and enrich problem solving skills while inspiring interest in mathematics.  The challenge of solving 20 advanced mathematical problems in a 45 minute time frame creates a competitive and rewarding design for teachers to engage students and provide a tangible incentive. 

Jamie Lawrence has been teaching middle school math for 11 years, with 6 at the charter school, and says,  “I checked into this and thought we’d give it a try this year to see how it went. We did practice tests and then the final was brutal.”  Increasing rigor is only one aspect for Lawrence, who is always looking for opportunities to bring new methods of learning complex mathematical concepts into the classroom.

“I don’t think I could even do some of those problems.  We are really trying to improve their problem solving skills and get them to think for themselves, outside of the basic computation,” Lawrence said.  She noted that Learning Bridge’s middle school 6th -8th grade classes will take another crack at the competition in the spring.