By Justin Li

On Saturday, June 7th, hundreds of students, coaches, volunteers, and parents gathered at Villa Fundamental Intermediate School to attend 18th Annual Santa Ana Math Field Day. After another year of preparation and hard work, this was the students’ chance to show off what they had learned, and what they could do.
Even though it was an early Saturday morning, the students gathered in the gym were all animatedly discussing the day ahead of them. After the morning briefing, the day of competition began. The first test, mental math, was held in the gym. Students were given 14 seconds per problem- 7 seconds to see the problem and 7 seconds to write down an answer. After a short break, the students separated into their teams, which were based off of school and grade, for the rest of the tests. The test topics included Problem Solving, Algebraic Thinking/Equations and Expressions, Estimation, and Geometry. While each event tested a different subject in math, all of them emphasized the importance of teamwork and cooperation. As emphasized earlier in the day, without teamwork, it is impossible to succeed in any of the events.

As the students concentrated on putting their best effort into solving the test problems, volunteers were working just as hard to score and organize the completed tests. After grading all the tests and taking down all the signs, all the volunteer tasks were finished just in time for the awards ceremony. For fourth and fifth graders, the top five teams in each event were awarded with medals. For sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, only the top 3 teams in each event were awarded. Almost every team won at least one medal. But at the end of the day, students, parents, and volunteers earned more than just medals and community service hours. By taking part in this event, everyone had gained a valuable experience that illustrated the power of commitment, dedication, and teamwork.

For many of the Orange County Math Circle volunteers who helped out, the Santa Ana Math Field was a personal event. Student volunteers involved with Santa Ana Math Club had helped coach many of the teams competing at the field day. For them, it was a chance to gauge how much of an impact they had made on the community.

Overall, the Santa Ana Math Field Day was a huge success. Everyone- students, coaches, and volunteers, walked away with something more. Whether it was a new problem-solving method, a clever math trick, or simply another experience, there is no doubt that this event has impacted all its participants. As more and more teams compete each year, one can only imagine what these future innovators and problem solvers will accomplish.