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Footprints student a math standout

Footprints Academy fifth grader Anya Khandpur won first place in the Minnesota Math Masters competition, which was held April 26 at John Glenn Middle School in Maplewood. (Submitted photo)

Footprints Academy fifth grader Anya Khandpur said her favorite thing about math is that it challenges her.

“It’s like a puzzle,” she said. “You need to put your brains into it and work hard at it.

“Plus, I like learning.”

Khandpur has proven her skills by taking first place in the Minnesota Math Masters competition, which was held April 26 at John Glenn Middle School in Maplewood.

“I thought there was no way I was going to win,” she said. “It was really surprising to hear my name.”

Math Masters is a regional competition for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students. The program challenges students to use critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities in mathematics, while recognizing academic effort and achievement.

This year’s competition included 135 students who made up 27 teams.

Footprints Academy fourth grader Kai Sih took 17th place while the entire team, made up of four students, took sixth place.

This is the second year in a row that a Footprints Academy student has won first place at Math Masters. Donald Hau won last year.

“We’re very proud,” said fifth grade teacher Lindsay Juran, who serves as the coach for Math Masters. “We’re just excited that they’re willing to work hard and aspire to it.”

’Something fun’

Khandpur said she wanted to participate in Math Masters this year because she had a classmate who participated last year and he said it was fun.

“I decided that I wanted to compete, too,” she said.

For the team, Juran selected the four students who had the highest MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) scores in math.

Math Masters incorporates a variety of math concepts including graphs, order of operations, hard averages and geometry.

The actual competition is split up into three individual rounds, of eight questions each, and three team rounds with eight questions each.

Juran said Math Masters is a great competition for students to participate in because it not only teaches students how to be a team, but it also helps them connect more to math.

“It makes math exciting, something fun to be a part of,” she said. “It lets them see math in the community, which is nice.”

In order to prepare for Math Masters, Khandpur and the three other students on the team went through a math study guide.

Khandpur said she estimates she studied an hour every night since the beginning of April.

On the day of the actual competition, Khandpur said she went in with a few nerves, but they quickly subsided.

“I was nervous at first, but when you went through it,” she said, “it was some of the stuff you’ve already covered so my nerves kind of settled down.”

Khandpur said she hopes to compete in the sixth grade Math Masters competition next year.

“It’s really exciting and fun and I just want to keep doing it,” she said. “I had to take what I knew and apply it in a different way and now that I know I can do it, I want to keep doing better.”

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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