Oak Knoll Hosts NJ Middle School’s Math Consortium

With the wind, a jet can fly 2500 km in two hours and 30 minutes. Against the wind, it can fly only 2000 km in the same time. Find the rate of the jet in still air and the rate of the wind.

Algebra 1 skills no longer top of mind? They were indeed top of mind for the students from six New Jersey schools who participated on “varsity” and “junior varsity” teams in the annual half-hour competition within the Math Consortium hosted by Oak Knoll on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. In addition to Oak Knoll students, participants this year came from Morris Plains Middle School, Ridgedale Middle School in Florham Park, Oratory Prep, Frelinghuysen Middle School, and Central Middle School in Longhill.

Students competed to answer 30 Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 questions designed by Oak Knoll’s grade 7-8 math faculty within a thirty-minute time frame. Although students received blue ribbons for participating, there were no trophies, and the participants took part simply for their love of mathematics.

Following the tournament, students spent another hour and a half working in teams to understand patterns in randomness (related to the gambler’s fallacy and Benford’s law) and solve clever math riddles based on the theories of Stanford Math Professor Jo Boeler. These activities encouraged group work and collaboration to improve growth mindsets and enjoyment of math.

Katherine O’Neill ‘28 found the rapid pace of the quiz activity a challenge. “The hardest part for me was managing my time and working through the problems quickly since we only had 30 minutes to get through 30 questions,” she explained.

A favorite group activity for Brigid Flynn 29 was the “Paint a cube project.” “Throughout this project, we had to identify which faces of a cube were visible when stacking the smaller cubes to create one large cube,” Flynn related. “The activity required critical thinking and analysis, and it obliged my peers and me to take a step back and look at the shape from numerous perspectives to complete the assignment successfully.”

The New Jersey Schools Consortium is an association of 10 area public and private middle schools dedicated to fostering middle school-age students’ intellectual, athletic, and social growth. The schools collaborate to offer a variety of annual events, including a spelling bee, volleyball tournament, and general knowledge quiz.