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Meyer Middle School club adds up to analytical challenge

The 2011-12 River Falls Math Team from Meyer Middle School includes: top row, from left, School Liaison John Witt, Emily Greenwood, Cassidy Leonard, Hidee Engel, Ashley Kiesler and Coach Steve Dodge. Bottom row, from left: Quinn Huhnke, Nate Dodge, Sam Filkins, Jari Zoller, Molly Shippy and Bailee Endries.

Math is one of those subjects that challenges many of us. But for a group of River Falls sixth- to eighth-graders, math is something that they excel at and enjoy.

In 2010 River Falls resident Steve Dodge started an afterschool math club for middle school students, who were seeking a club that challenged them.

According to Dodge, the math club is a " afterschool environment to be challenged with activities, brain teasers, and math problems."

As part of the nationally renowned MATHCOUNTS program, "A perfect atmosphere is created for students to push themselves to achieve more through fun and creative problems, math exercises, and games that promote critical-thinking and problem-solving skills," said Dodge.

In its second year, the club has seen membership increase to 24 students. The club, which meets weekly from October through February, is coached by Dodge, middle school math teacher John Witt and high school student mentor Riley Claude.

In February, mathletes from the River Falls Math Club competed at the NW Wisconsin Chapter MathCounts Competition in Eau Claire.

After a voluntary math competition at Meyer Middle School in January, 10 team members were selected to attend.

"The MATHCOUNTS Competition, which exists in all 50 states, is a national middle school coaching and competitive mathematics program that promotes mathematics achievement through a series of fun and engaging "bee" style contests," said Dodge.

The competition consists of four different rounds:

- Sprint Round: 30 problems, testing accuracy

- Target Round: Eight problems presented in four pairs, testing mathematical reasoning and problem-solving processes.

- Team Round: Ten problems that team members work together to solve.

- Countdown Round: Fast-paced, oral competition for top-scoring individuals, based on scores in the Sprint and Target Rounds -- pairs of students compete against each other and the clock to solve problems.

When the competition was finished, River Falls placed ninth out of 15 teams.

Sixth grader Jari Zoller was the top River Falls student. He placed 11th out of 150 mathletes.

Zoller represented River Falls at the state competition in Madison in March, where he was one of 12 sixth-graders out of 142 total middle school competitors.

Zoller also received special recognition at the April 16 school board meeting for his achievement.

For more information on the River Falls Math Club visit // or email

Jillian Dexheimer
Jillian Dexheimer has been a copy editor and reporter for the River Falls Journal since 2011. She previously worked for the River Falls Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. Dexheimer holds a sociology degree from UW-River Falls.
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