Skip Navigation

State’s Largest Middle School Math Contest Continues Tradition of Combining Math, Fun, Food and Prizes

May 6, 2009

ORAU Extreme Classroom Makeover Winners

Pictured L to R, front row, are the top three eighth-grade individual winners at the 2009 Tennessee Middle School Math Competition at Pellissippi State Technical Community College in Knoxville on May 1: Jim Andress, Jefferson Middle School, Oak Ridge, first place; Dalton Chaffee, West Valley Middle School, Knoxville, second place; and Tim Blackwell, Greenway School, Knoxville, third place. Pictured L to R, second row, are Wayne Stevenson, ORAU vice president and director, Science Education Programs; and Jonathan Lamb, associate professor of mathematics, Pellissippi State Technical Community College. Click image for high resolution version.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—On May 1, 520 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders representing a record 32 different middle schools from across East Tennessee converged on Pellissippi State Technical Community College for the ninth annual Tennessee Middle School Math Competition, sponsored by Pellissippi State and Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU).

Students came from as far north as Johnson City and as far south as Cleveland for the math challenge. They were also treated to lunch and recreation at the Zuma Fun Center in Knoxville, which included video games, go carts and miniature golf. At the end of the event, an awards ceremony was held to recognize the contest’s winning individuals and teams.

The Pellissippi State Foundation received a $14,000 grant from ORAU to support the competition, and trophies and gifts were given to the top 10 students in each grade.

“We could not do the competition without the support of ORAU,” said Jonathan Lamb, Pellissippi State math professor.

The 30-question tests that the student competitors took were unique for each of the three grade divisions and designed by Lamb in collaboration with site coordinators from colleges across the state of Tennessee.

Greenway School in Knoxville walked away with the number-one team ranking for the best overall score in the eighth-grade competition. Jefferson Middle School, Oak Ridge, took the number-one team ranking for the seventh-grade competition, while Farragut Middle School of Knoxville took first place in the sixth-grade team category.

The individual winners were Jim Andress, Jefferson Middle School, eighth grade; Larry Shen, Jefferson Middle School, seventh grade; and Lam Tran, Farragut Middle School, sixth grade.

“Research shows that middle school is the period when most [students] turn away from enjoying mathematics,” Lamb said. “Usually through grade school, the majority of students do enjoy their math classes, but at some point, when the algebra skills start to be introduced, lots of students start losing interest in mathematics. So our goal here at Pellissippi is to show students that math can be fun and to encourage these students who are at the very top level of math to continue to proceed and achieve in math and go on and hopefully become our engineers of tomorrow.”

“The data are quite clear,” said Dr. Wayne Stevenson, ORAU vice president and director, Science Education Programs. “When you look at the labor force and the requirements for the next 10 to 20 years, we’re going to need far more students pursuing degrees in math, science, technology and engineering fields, and we hope that a competition like this will help encourage some of them to do just that.”

The Tennessee Middle School Math Competition has the distinction of not only being the largest middle school math contest in Tennessee but also the first to be collegiately sponsored, Lamb said.

“From what we started in 2000 here alone, there are now eight colleges across the state that do this competition,” Lamb said. “Last year it was six—this year it’s 10. So it’s spreading each and every year.”

Results from the 2009 Middle School Math Competition

Students won prizes from $250 for first place to $20 for 10th place.

Sixth grade individual winners:

  1. Lam Tran (Farragut Middle)
  2. Melissa Yu (Farragut Middle)
  3. Chunyang Ding (Farragut Middle)
  4. Katherine Zhang (Jefferson Middle)
  5. Kai Smith (Farragut Middle)
  6. Sam Feldman (Karns Middle)
  7. Jason Fu (Farragut Middle)
  8. Kyle Parsley (Farragut Middle)
  9. Chris Meyer (Cleveland Middle)
  10. Dallyn Greene (Farragut Middle)

Seventh grade individual winners:

  1. Larry Shen (Jefferson Middle)
  2. Gaibo Zhang (Jefferson Middle)
  3. Maddie Strnad (Farragut Middle)
  4. Sunay Bhat (West Valley)
  5. Maria D’Azeuedo (Jefferson Middle)
  6. Stevie Andress (Jefferson Middle)
  7. Warren LaForest (Jefferson Middle)
  8. Kaitlyn McCollum (Vine Middle)
  9. Kenneth Ye (Farragut Middle)
  10. Vicki Huang (Jefferson Middle)

Eighth grade individual winners:

  1. Jim Andress (Jefferson Middle)
  2. Dalton Chaffee (West Valley)
  3. Timothy Blackwell (Greenway School)
  4. Sam Shadwell (Greenway School)
  5. Luke Schwarzentraab (West Valley)
  6. Michael Pearce (West Valley)
  7. Katherine Wheeler (Jefferson Middle)
  8. Chris Bonnesen (Farragut Middle)
  9. Richard Sholly (St. Joseph School)
  10. Austin McKee (Greeneville Middle School)

Awards were also presented for the three schools with the best overall scores at each grade level for the competition. Those were as follows:

Sixth grade:

  1. Farragut Middle School, Knoxville
  2. West Valley Middle School, Knoxville
  3. Robertsville Middle School, Oak Ridge

Seventh grade:

  1. Jefferson Middle School, Oak Ridge
  2. Farragut Middle School, Knoxville
  3. Bearden Middle School, Knoxville

Eighth grade:

  1. Greenway School, Knoxville
  2. Jefferson Middle School, Oak Ridge
  3. West Valley Middle School, Knoxville

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).


Y-12 National Security Complex
Jonathan Lamb

Communications and Marketing

Media Contacts

Pam Bonee
Work: 865.576.3146
Cell: 865.603.5142

Wendy West
Work: 865.576.0028
Cell: 865.207.7953