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Parkway Elementary’s Grace Young Takes First Place in State Math Fair

Grace Young took top honors as first place winner in the third-fourth grade category

By Sherrie Norris

Four local students well represented the High Country this past weekend at the North Carolina State Math Fair, having earlier qualified as winners in regional competitions.

While all did remarkably well at the finals, held at North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, two of the four students came home with impressive awards.

Grace Young took top honors as first place winner in the third-fourth grade category; Valerie Kitchell won an honorable mention.

Fellow presenters Maia Carter and Sarrah Kitchell reportedly did an excellent job with their presentations and felt honored for the opportunity to compete at the state level.

Grace Young, 9 years of age, is the daughter of Erica and Wes Young and is a third grade student at Parkway Elementary School. Her project, titled “Probability: It’s A Piece of Cake,” explored the probability of winning a cake walk, and compared it to the probability of randomly spinning a one-10 on a number wheel.

Valerie Kitchell, 15, is a freshman at Watauga High School and is the daughter of Megan Hayes and Michael Kitchell. Her project, “Predictive Policing,” explored the accuracy of crime indicator models.

The four High Country students were among the 90 students from across North Carolina whose projects qualified for this prestigious competition.

To be eligible for the May 4 state math fair, the four local winners initially had to secure either a first, second or third place, or an honorable mention, in one of the three regional math fairs held earlier this spring. During the regional events, which are open to all students in the state (in the following age groups: K-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8 and 9-12), six awards were presented in each age group in each region.

Directed by Dr. Betty Long, a professor of mathematical sciences at ASU, the state-wide event is sponsored by the N.C. Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

According to information provided by Dr. Long, the math fair projects are judged on seven criteria: written documentation, oral presentation, development and demonstration of mathematical concepts, investigation beyond everyday classroom investigation, student creativity, organization of ideas and appearance.

Additionally, math fair projects give students an opportunity to expand their mathematical horizons by going beyond the standard curriculum. The math fair is known as “a place where the student can excel.”

Since the first NCCTM State Math Fair was held in 1997, 1,800 students have showcased 1,450 projects at the annual statewide event.

Valerie Kitchell won an honorable mention
Left to Right: Valerie Kitchell, Sarrah Kitchell, Grace Young and Maia Carter