By TRINA BERNAL
On October 9, 2018, Vacaville Center of Solano Community College held its sixth annual Math Steeplechase Competition in Vacaville at 10am – 1:30pm. This is a countywide event that invites at least a team of four students from schools nearby, like Fairfield, Vacaville, Dixon, and Benicia. The founding principles of this event encourage those interested to continue their pursuit in the STEM field, especially math, a subject most students would favor against. The Math Steeplechase event also aims to “increase [the] awareness of higher education opportunities available through Solano Community College.”
In the past, a student would guide a peer, who’s blindfolded, as part of the problem. By using knowledge of right angles and degrees, their chances of reaching ‘X’ would increase because of the prior lessons taught to them by their math teachers. It sounds simple, right? Well, in 2008, Dixon High School senior Adam Lane (12) had to guide his classmate, Yasemin Sarigul-Klijin, through the woods near the campus the competition was held at. Yasemin was not only disoriented from the blindfold but also had to wholly trust Adam to keep her away from the cones, He could only do that with his back to her, using a hand-mirror to see her steps and path. See? It’s not as easy as it sounds.
Two teams from Benicia High participated in the Steeplechase event. First team included Varsity members, Katie Own (11), Katie Han (11), Enrique Mixco-Cabral (11), and Ricardo (11), and the second team included Junior Varsity members Niall Mandal (10), Krishna Mandal (10), Greg Jaugan (10), and Brandon Black (10) The sophomore team won in the math match.
Black was surprised of their victory. Black shared his small insecurity when he looked around and people appeared to be smart when they were focusing on their individual problems. The JV team won and scored by points depending on what each station asked for. This victory required hard work, mental stamina, and an ability to reject all distractions. And because of this, the JV team outcompeted all the other teams. Having solved (or attempted to solve) all the problems presented to them by the Steeplechase administrators, the JV team earned a trophy and the first quarter hasn’t even ended yet.
At the competition, there were stations where each assigned a certain math problem with real-life math application scenarios. Some problems the teams had to solve were to calculate the probability a disc would fall on a grid, to find the order things were organized based on clues, and to unlock a box by first unlocking the four locks. These problems are puzzles. To apply this competition into real-life, Black surmised that it’s easier to try to break the big scary problems down into smaller problems. “Try to expand on it to solve. They made you think outside of the box.”
PreCalc Honors teacher Coach T asked the current team members to recommend others they would believe to be a great teammate in this math tournament. All team members listed accepted their role in the competition with humility.