Four from West win in national math competition

       Four students from West Middle School were each judged worthy of a $1,000 scholarship in the Raytheon Company's recently announced math contest results.

West Middle School's scholarship winners in the Raytheon Company's nationwide math contest are (from left) Molly Fackelman, Hannah Levy, Elisabeth Staton and Henry Burkle.
Westside Pioneer photo

       They are eighth-grader Hannah Levy (a repeat winner from last year) and seventh-graders Henry Burkle, Molly Fackelman and Elisabeth Staton.
       They were among 150 middle-schoolers, out of some 3,000 entrants nationwide, to win scholarships in the engineering firm's annual competition that asks “How Does Math Put the Action in Your Passion?”
       Raytheon additionally gives a matching $1,000 for each of the winning students to their schools.
       This is the third straight year that West students, led by West Math Department Chair Phil Hutcherson, have managed to produce Raytheon selectees. There were six last year and two the year before that.
       The contest challenge to students is to analyze an activity they particularly enjoy and provide a mathematical aspect of it.
       Last year Levy, a karate student, had explained what actually happens when she breaks a board with her hand. This year she chose another pursuit that she enjoys: playing the viola. She developed a math formula to define where on the instrument's fingerboard certain frequencies of sound are produced.
       Burkle chose model rockets, which he likes to build. He figured out an equation to determine where a rocket would land, based on the angle of the launch and the height it attains.
       Fackelman studied a volleyball serve, measuring the amount of force needed to get a serve to go in on the opponents' side of the net.
       Staton, saying “my passion is animals,” figured a way to calculate the stride length of a dog, learning in the process that such strides are proportionally similar, regardless of the dog's size.
       In other West math news... Hutcherson's MATHCOUNTS team achieved the Gold Level for the fourth straight year. “We were one of only four schools in Colorado [out of 145 that tried] to obtain it this year, and the only one in the Colorado Springs area,” he said. Nationally, only 276 schools earned Gold out of at least 3,000 that competed, the teacher estimated. (The Gold level is attained by having a sufficient number of students pass a MATHCOUNTS' 10- question challenge.)
       Hutcherson is in his seventh year at West. He said he decided to teach math after realizing in high school that other students were asking him to explain math concepts instead of their classroom teacher.

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