Elba Students Again Take Top Honors in Genesee Math Club Contest

For the second consecutive year, Elba students took top awards for their creativity combined with math skills. Seventh-graders Mandy Morrow and Alexis Aratari took first place in the fourth annual Genesee Community College Math Club Poster Contest. This year’s theme was “Math in Nature,” which inspired Morrow and Aratari to create a poster called “Symmetry in BIG CATS!” The contest winners were recognized at an awards ceremony at Genesee Community College on Wednesday, April 18.

The winning duo led a contingent from Elba Central School that swept the contest, which attracted 50 posters from middle school students (grades 6-8) in five school districts throughout Genesee County. Elba students placed first, second, and third and also took both “honorable mentions.”

Math teacher Colleen Vacanti assisted the students from Elba. Vacanti uses the poster contest as a fun, relaxing activity after the state testing is completed in March. Once her students have finished their posters, they do a short presentation to the class. Vacanti creates her own rubric to help select the best posters her students have created and sends only the “cream of the crop” in as contest entries.

“Colleen Vacanti is an excellent math teacher who really makes math enjoyable for her students,” said Mary Knappen, mathematics professor and Math Club adviser at Genesee Community College.

The Genesee Math Club celebrates Math Awareness Month with the poster contest designed to “show students that math is fun” and to present mathematics in a positive light. “Statistics indicate that math test scores tend to be declining, especially in the United States, so we hope to have a little impact (locally) to help boost it,” Knappen said. “We find that students’ interest in math takes a turn in the middle school years and we want to show them that it can be fun and exciting.”

Knappen spoke to the winners and their families about the importance of math skills in the workplace. “If you want to get a high-paying job, you’ll need to have a good background in math,” she said.

Judges considered four categories – overall impact, clarity, appropriateness, and creativity – as they graded the posters. Knappen said the judging was very close. Morrow and Aratari earned $50 to split for their first-place poster.

Elba eighth-graders Maria Chavaz, Molly Griffis, and Joe Mattison placed second for their poster titled “Math and Nature”. They won $25.

Perla Tristan, Nancy Franco, and Delia Puerte, Elba seventh-graders, placed third for “Flowers in Fibonacci,” and won $15.

Jake Hillabush and Ryleigh Rowcliffe, Elba eighth-graders, who created “Fibonacci Shells,” and eighth-graders Phil Casper and Eric Kowalik, who submitted “Math in Spider Webs,” were honorable mentions.

For more information about Genesee’s Math Club, contact Mary Knappen at 585-343-0055 x 6382 or e-mail her at mcknappen@genesee.edu or Phil Pickering, the other co-advisor of Genesee’s Math Club at extension 6388, or email at: ptpickering@genesee.edu.

Math Poster Contest Winners Summary Chart / April 23, 2007

Award Name Grade School District Teacher Poster Name
1st Place Mandy Morrow
Alexis Aratari

Elba Central Colleen Vacanti “Symmetry in BIG CATS!”
2nd Place

Maria Chavaz
Molly Griffis
Joe Mattison

 Elba Central Colleen Vacanti “Math in Nature”
3rd Place

Perla Tristan
Nancy Franco
Delia Puerte

Elba Central Colleen Vacanti “Flowers in Fibonacci”
Mention Jake Hillabush
Ryleigh Rowcliffe

Elba Central Colleen Vacanti “Fibonacci Shells”
Mention Phil Casper
Eric Kowalik

Elba Central Colleen Vacanti “Math in Spider Webs”

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Please note: Two photographs from the Math Contest Ceremony on Wednesday, April 18th are available at the following Internet addresses.

INSPIRATION: Colleen Vacanti, an Elba math teacher who encourages her students to participate in the Genesee Community College Math Club Poster Contest. Vacanti’s students won all the awards in this year’s contest. http://marketing.genesee.edu/images/vacanti.bmp

CONTEST WINNERS: Recognized for submitting outstanding posters in the fourth annual Genesee Community College Math Club Poster Contest are, from left, Alexis Aratari, Mandy Morrow, Maria Chavaz, Molly Griffis, Perla Tristan, Delia Puente, Philip Casper, and Ryleigh Rowcliffe. http://marketing.genesee.edu/images/math_contest_winners.bmp