Hearts, flowers and polynomials

Valentine's Day isn't just a special day for flowers, chocolates and romantic dinners. Now its a special day for mathematics lovers. So, step aside Cupid, here comes Euclid.

This Saturday, Feb. 14, 200 area students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grade students will exchange hearts and flowers for polynomials and statistics. They will express their love for mathematics at Mathcounts, a regional and national competition that pits students in rigorous math combat. The event is held on the campus of the University of Vermont.

The students, from around Chittenden County, will perform alone and in teams. They will be required to complete written and oral tests with questions to answer-and problems to solve-relating to probability, statistics, algebra and polynomials.

The following area schools will send students to this year's Mathcounts: Albert Lawton Intermediate School, Browns River Middle School, Colchester Middle School, Edmunds Middle School, Essex Middle School, Frederick Tuttle Middle School, Hinesburg Community School, Lamoille Union Middle School, Lyman C. Hunt Middle School, Mater Christi School, Missisquoi Valley Union Middle School, Saint Francis Xavier School, Shelburne Community School, and Williston Central School.

According to Dawn Densmore of UVM, Mathcounts targets students in these three grades for a reason: "Students are at a crucial stage in developing and sustaining interest and ability in mathematics that will ensure success for higher education and career opportunities in engineering and mathematics," she said.

Now entering its twenty-sixth year, Mathcounts brings regional industry sponsors onto the UVM campus. Industry representatives will be there for a reason; they are on the lookout for future employees-Vermont graduates with strong math skills.

In recent years, Mathcounts has received national kudos-the mind-expanding event has garnered top honors from both Republican (Bush) and Democrat (Clinton) presidents as an outstanding private-sector initiative.

This year's event is hosted by the UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and the Vermont Society of Professional Engineers. It will kick-off in the Billings Lecture Hall, noon-1 p.m., Feb. 14.

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