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Math competition returns, organizer says pandemic may have widened inequalities in math education

Mike Bostick at Central Wyoming College said that to de-emphasize winning the contest skipped an award ceremony this year to help the kids focus on personal accomplishment.

Last week, Central Wyoming College (CWC) hosted their regional leg of the State Mathematics Contest with 160 student participants from Fremont and Hot Springs Counties. CWC mathematics professor Mike Bostick is the regional coordinator for the contest.

“Mathematics education is very important, increasingly important in our society that’s filled with data and mathematical problem solving requirements, even for basic jobs these days requires some advanced computer skills, data analysis skills and mathematical comprehension,” he said.

Bostick, also, said there are inequities in traditional math instruction that the pandemic may have made worse. The contest aims to make math enjoyable for every student at many different skill levels.

“Definitely, the privileged students that maybe could have parents that could afford to take time off work to help them study individually,” said Bostick. “Definitely when we had, you know, COVID lock downs and stuff, students would be on their own for education if they didn't have a lot of family or financial support.”

Bostick said he participated in the contest as a young Wyoming student and that this year's regional turnout surpassed pre-COVID numbers.

The math competition is a standardized test taken all over Wyoming. Regional results will be compared and released in the coming weeks.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.
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