Math Team maintains rigor in virtual year

Aryeh Lesch, Staff Writer

While classrooms and chalkboards were swapped with Zoom breakout rooms and screen sharing this year, the ETHS Math Team kept their collaborative and driven spirit alive during the 2020-21 season. Like many other clubs and teams, the Math Team saw their competitions—typically five in a season—made virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[In a meet], everyone takes the contest for their grade level. [For example], I would take the senior exam, and then they score it, and they usually do awards and stuff, but they didn’t do that this year,” said senior team member Ezra Steinberg. “So, we just had those meets virtually.”

While the rigor of the math problems was maintained virtually, team members look forward to regaining some of the sense of teamwork that did not translate as well to virtual practices.

“When we’re in-person, practice is pretty much everyone working with each other on the problems. Even when you split up into breakout rooms on Zoom, you kind of lose that aspect; it’s completely different online,” said Steinberg.

While the Math Team is often a state-level contender, Steinberg noted that the focus is more on learning and enjoying math than being competitive.

“We don’t really care about results. We’re doing it to learn and have fun, so we don’t really look at where we are,” said Steinberg. “There’s usually a state meet hosted at the end of the year, and that was canceled last year. They did have that this year, as an abridged state [with] not all events. That was nice, especially as a senior, to have some sort of final thing.”

While the state meet did occur in a virtual capacity this year, team members look to the in-person state meets from previous years as highlights from their time on the team.

“Definitely, the state meets… are very fun. Usually, you go down to the UIUC campus, and you get to stay in a nice hotel and go to breakfast and they have a pool; it’s a very fun event,” said Steinberg.

As for getting new students to join, Steinberg stressed that what they do is not the tedious kind of math one might be used to from their classes.

“A lot of people just see school math, which is kind of dry and just ‘memorize this, memorize that.’ The math that you do on Math Team is a lot more fun and fluid and it’s [about] discovering things that make math cool and interesting,” said Steinberg. “The point of joining a club is to have fun. Come to the first few practices, and if you love it, then you’ve found something to do for the next four years.”