CALDWELL, NJ - Six students from James Caldwell High School in West Caldwell qualified as national finalists to compete in MathCON, a national online math competition, traveling to Chicago on April 25, to compete at the University of Illinois in Chicago. To qualify, students competed against students nationwide in an on-line exam open to students in grades five through 12.

Nearly 45,000 students participated in the first round of online testing, representing 42 states, and the students with the top 700 scores were invited to compete in Chicago. In Chicago, the students took a paper and pencil test without a calculator where they were able to compete for cash and other prizes. Six students from JCHS attended MathCON, with two freshman students, Ashvin Nagarajan and Francesca Stadtman, earning sixth and seventh place for their age group respectively. Other participants included ninth graders Frederick Wu, Kevin Perry, and Charlie Fierro, and tenth grader Jenna Martinez. The five students confirmed as reserves were ninth graders Lauren Trusio and Brendan Padover, eleventh grader Rachael Borrows, and twelve graders Samantha Chang and Madeline Caracappa.

 “This year, for the first time, our school participated in the online contest,” said math teacher and math club advisor Patti Miscia. “My math club co-advisor Lisa DeLaura and I decided to organize the test, having almost all students in our regular and honors level mathematics classes participate in the online contest. We were very excited and proud when we learned that 13 students were invited to participate in a second round of the contest in Chicago, and 14 other students were listed as reserves for students who might not attend.”

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Hosted by Concept Schools of Chicago, MathCON’s goal is to engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) outside of the classroom and to encourage more students to enter those fields.

“MathCON is our way of inspiring the future leaders in those fields by engaging the students at a young age, making STEM fun and demonstrating its real-world applications,” said Ayhan Caputlu, director of math education at Concept Schools and initiator of MathCON. “This competition allows us to reach students from all over the nation and help them establish, improve and maintain skills that can lead to many possibilities throughout their educational careers and beyond.”

In addition to the 70-minute test, competitors attended a presentation by mathmagician Arthur Benjamin, enjoyed a pizza party and played an array of STEM-related games.