Davis Ladner

Davis Ladner placed in the top 10 percent worldwide at this year’s olympiad. 

Math lovers at Hopi Elementary got to flex their skills in the big leagues with their first-ever Math Olympiad competition – and it proved to be a stimulating and rewarding experience for all. 

Mathematician Dr. George Lenchner created the Mathematical Olympiads for Elementary and Middle School (MOEMS) program in 1977. In 2021, over 120,000 students from more than 35 countries, along with teams in all 50 states (a total of 5,000 groups), participated. 

Hopi’s fifth-grade teacher Laura Mitchell became the PICO, or person in charge of, the Math Club – an after-school program she started to encourage other math enthusiasts to challenge themselves. She then signed the club up for their first MOEMS competition.

“Any fourth or fifth-grade student could sign up for the club. I told the families ahead of time that it would be challenging and that it would be a great chance for their child to grow and learn,” Mitchell said. 

According to the website, “the objectives of MOEMS are to teach multiple strategies for out-of-the-box problem solving, develop mathematical flexibility in solving those problems and foster mathematical creativity and ingenuity.”

Hopi’s team included six fourth-graders and six fifth-graders. They met once a week to practice problems and play math games to get ready for the challenge.

The online-based contests start in November and go through March, with one contest held per month. Students have 30 minutes, must work by themselves and cannot use a calculator to solve five questions in each contest – 25 problems total. 

Hopi did not place as a team, but their spirit wasn’t diminished, as the following students placed in the top percentages worldwide:

Fourth-grader Davis Ladner

(1st place) – top 10 percent

Fifth-grader Holly Mitchell

(2nd place) – top 20 percent

Fourth-grader Zara Redzic

(3rd place) – top 25 percent

Fourth-grader Josh Layman

(4th place) – top 50 percent

Other team members included Violet Doody, Cole West, Justyce Bess, Aaron Klein, Quinn Campisano, Graeme Baird, Kenna Beller and Liam Menousek.

“I am so proud of the kids because they competed in the grades 4-6 category, so they were up against teams that likely had a lot of sixth graders,” Mitchell said. 

Afterwards, Mitchell invited families and friends to celebrate. Davis received a trophy for first place at Hopi, and the top four finishers earned a MOEMS patch. All team members received a certificate and a medal for their hard work. 

“It was so fun to do challenging math problems. It was a great new experience,” team member Holly Mitchell said. 

Davis Ladner echoed, “Math Olympiad was challenging, but I really enjoyed it. Something about the math made it fun.”

Hopi has plans to participate this year, with more mathletes ready to join the challenge.