MATHCOUNTS Heightens Positive Outlook Toward Math through Competition

December 1, 2020 / Middle School/All News
Math equations and tools - notebooks, pencils, calculators, protractors - sit on a gray background.

MATHCOUNTS is a national middle school mathematics competition that nurtures problem-solving skills and encourages achievement with “bee” style contests.

More than 40 Jackson Academy students in grades six through eight participate in the program that Rob Triplett, who teaches seventh-grade pre-algebra and coaches football and golf, leads.

Any JA student in sixth through eighth grade may participate in the program, which builds a positive attitude about math and makes learning math fun.

Students love competition and their desire to be the best motivates them to participate in MATHCOUNTS, Triplett said.

“This is no different than athletics,” he said. “We all have the desire to compete.”

The program consists of four levels of competition, starting with one at the school, progressing to the chapter competition that includes schools in the Jackson metro area, then state competition, and finally, the national competition.

The school competition reduces the number of MATHCOUNTS participants to 10 and they go on to compete at the chapter competition, Triplett said. They must qualify to compete at the state level and again at the national level in Orlando, Florida.

Triplett said he considers himself fortunate to work with MATHCOUNTS because it builds problem-solving skills and more. “Anything in which our students can work as a group to achieve something bigger is a life lesson that cannot be taught in the classroom,” he said.

MATHCOUNTS builds students’ confidence, develops critical thinking skills, and serves as good practice for standardized tests such as the PSAT, SAT, and ACT, said Susan Elliott, a former math teacher who sponsored JA’s MATHCOUNTS program for about 15 years before becoming the school’s database manager.

Elliott recalled how preparing for competitions meant working on new strategies for problem-solving, but it was fun. “There were always lots of laughs, productive arguments about different ways to come up with solutions to problems, a friendly competitive spirit, and of course. . . good snacks to eat,” she said.

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of Jackson Academy’s True Blue magazine. To read more, visit