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South Jordan Journal

Students find challenges at Daybreak Elementary’s math tournament

May 30, 2018 11:07AM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Seventy rows of students were hunched over tests for 4.5 hours, working out answers to problems. It wasn’t a college entrance exam but rather the Daybreak Elementary’s eighth annual math tournament that attracted 325 students from 27 schools. 

Katherine Harbaugh, who originated Daybreak’s tournament to give students a chance to excel in math, said the competition involves solving about 25 challenging math problems on a variety of math topics.

“The tournament gives higher-level math kids, who want the challenge and have the skills to perform under pressure, a chance to put their mathematics to the test,” she said.

Harbaugh, who follows the Math Olympiads for elementary and middle schools’ rules, invites public and charter schools within the southeastern part of the Salt Lake Valley to send teams of five students to the tournament.

“These schools send us teams — 65 this year — of five fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students,” she said.

Daybreak is the only Math Olympiad tournament in Utah, Harbaugh said, so often times, schools outside the area want to participate.

“We have arranged it for our geographical location so when schools outside our area want to participate, we’re restricted to our boundaries,” she said.

There are several rounds in the tournament, where students perform individually for trophies as well as with their teammates for a school plaque and individual medals. All participants received a certificate.

“These kinds are taking the tests timed, so they are under pressure,” Harbaugh said. “This experience will carry them forward as they take the ACT and other exams. It’s a life skill they’re learning now.”

This year’s individual round, fifth-grader Travis Ferrin, of Early Light Academy, scored a perfect 10 for first place.

Five students scored nine points, so sudden-death tie-breakers were put in place, Harbaugh said.

After two tie-breakers, Alex Lords from Blackridge Elementary emerged as the second-place winner. Herriman Elementary’s Thyse Simons was third. Jordan Ridge’s Jared Young and Isaac Smith and Blackridge’s Dawson Jepson were awarded honorable mention.  

In the team event, first place went to Jordan Ridge (Isaac Smith, Ben Clark, Dillan Oar, Jared Young and Devin Butterfield), edging out Riverton (Zanna Bruening, Hayden Mortensen, Alex Turley, Isaac Turley and Justin Peterson). Third place was awarded to Blackridge (Alex Lords, Luke Eslinger, Austin Mair, Sarah Stoekle and Kaydence Taylor).

The tournament involves several volunteers from each school grading and re-grading students’ tests for accuracy. In addition, Harbaugh thanked Daybreak sixth-grade teacher Wendy Babcock for being the emcee, keeping students in check, and the school’s custodial staff for setting up tables and chairs as well as cleaning up after the tournament. 

While Harbaugh has had years of experience, this year’s tournament provided a bit of a challenge.

“We were the first tournament of the year, so there were some technical glitches and last-minute scrambling to have the tests come through the security link and make copies for the students,” she said. “Putting on the tournament is a major undertaking but so worthwhile for the students to have a chance to challenge themselves in an academic pursuit.”