Here's an easy math problem: How many Edison middle school students will qualify to participate in the regional MathCounts competition Feb. 18?
The answer is eight -- plus two alternates.
The hard part is determining who those students will be.
Participants in the Edison Intermediate-Middle School MathCounts team took the qualifying tests earlier this week and the results should be known by the end of the week, said Nicole Wainscott, sixth-grade math teacher and MathCounts adviser.
MathCounts is a national mathematics competition open to students in grades 6-8.
Edison's program meets twice a week, with students discussing and being coached on all aspects of middle school-level math.
The students work on math problems, including a series of questions provided by MathCounts designed to help prepare them for the competition.
"The subject matter includes questions about algebra, geometry, probability and logic-type of questions," Wainscott said.
"The great thing for the sixth-grade students is that they are being given an early introduction to some of the concepts they will be studying later on in middle school," she said.
The variety of questions and level of difficulty mean every student is likely to be challenged by some question or concept, Wainscott said.
"It's like a sports team: different players, different skill levels or strengths," she said.
Edison will compete against about 80 schools from around central Ohio in next month's regional competition.
Last year, the squad finished in 19th place, which was impressive considering the competition includes many schools that have much larger enrollments than Edison, Wainscott said.
A majority of the local team is composed of sixth-graders, she said.
"By the time they get in to seventh and eighth grade, students begin having athletics and other activities that take up their time," Wainscott said.
"I like MathCounts because it gives you kind of an extra challenge, and I like challenges," said sixth-grader Micah Clark Moody. "I've always been pretty good at math, so it's fun to try something we haven't studied in class yet."
"I want to know as much I can, and MathCounts helps me be able to get ahead of our studies in class," sixth-grader Aria Cadeau said.
The variety of problems and skill levels posed in MathCounts questions keep even students who love math on their toes, sixth-grader Jude Rosinski said.
"What's really great about math is that there is always something new to learn," he said.
Students help each other during the MathCounts meetings, but everyone also has a desire to earn a spot in the regional tournament, Micah said.
"But it's a healthy competition," she said. "Like if Aria makes it to the regional, I'm not going to hate her or anything. We all cheer each other on."