In our Math is Cool teams, high school and middle school students who excel at math and love working with kids coach 4th-5th graders or 6th-8th graders in an after school, team-based math competition program. Students spend time playing math games, solving problems, and learning new math skills. Adult-supervised and held on-site at local schools
Teams meet after school 1-2 days/week for hour-long sessions. Depending on competition dates and whether a team qualifies for masters, the season runs 4-7 months.
The program is school-based and is open to all 4th-5th or 6th-8th grade students at a given school on a space-available basis. Math is Cool is designed for students who thrive while doing challenging mathematics, but our programs are open to students of all ability levels. Anyone willing to work hard and try can learn and have fun in this program.
It’s fun! Plus, it helps build leadership skills for the coaches and problem-solving skills for the teammates.
These 4th and 5th graders meet twice a week for the Fernan Math is Cool after school program overseen by Fernan teacher Heather Mangini. The team was started in the fall of 2017 by Growing the STEM's team of Lilian Smith, Kevin Eaton, and Brian Hadley. Special thanks to Principal Kathy Livingston, Kate Orozco, and the Fernan PTO for their support of this program. The 2018-2019 team was funded by the United Way of North Idaho and Mountain West Bank.
Lilian Smith is a sophomore at Coeur d’Alene High School interested in pursuing chemistry research or teaching and policy advocacy for public education. She enjoys running in cross country (captain), playing on the tennis team, competing in scholastics and debate, spending time in her chemistry and math classes, participating in student council, and working at Abi’s Ice Cream. Lilian loves to teach the Math is Cool students new tricks through interactive games and to see their growth from the beginning of practices to the competition. This is her second year coaching Math is Cool at Fernan, a program she started in 2017. Lilian is also a co-founder of Growing the STEM and serves as vice president of the GTS Board of Directors.
Abigail Buzolich is a freshman at Coeur d’Alene High School and hopes to become a nurse. She runs cross country and track and loves to swim, hang out with friends, and be outdoors. Abby enjoys coaching because she thinks it is fun to see the kids grow in their math skills and make life long memories and friends.
James Hagman is a freshman at Coeur d’Alene High School who plans to study engineering in college. His interests include clarinet, video games, and bowling. James thinks it is fun to see kiddos work math problems, as it reminds him of his own learning process and his strong interest in math.
Lance Emry is a 7th grader at Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy who aspires to a career in business. He is a member of the state champion water polo team and enjoys fishing, cross country skiing, video games, and math. Lance enjoyed Math is Cool as an elementary student and likes coaching because he wants other kids to have fun math experiences.
Ms. Heather Mangini is the Advanced Learning Program teacher at Fernan STEM Academy.
The Bryan 4th and 5th graders meet once a week in this Math is Cool after school program overseen by Bryan teacher Sigurd Panke. The team was initiated by Lilian Smith and started in the fall of 2018 by Growing the STEM's team of Zachary Mackimmie, Chelsea Barrera, Kennedy Krajack, Luke Decker, and Adeline Smith and Fernan's team of Sigurd Panke and Marissa Owen. Special thanks to Principal Kristin Gorringe and the Bryan PTO for their support of this program. The 2018-2019 team was funded by the United Way of North Idaho and Mountain West Bank.
Zachary Mackimmie is a senior at Coeur d’Alene High School who plans on attending Gonzaga University with an intended major of business, broadcasting, or sports management. His many activities include baseball, Mathletes, student council, basketball, Key Club, and National Honor Society. Zach really enjoys working with kids, especially with math; his calculus teacher recommended that he coach for GTS, and he has enjoyed starting a program at Bryan, where he attended elementary school.
Chelsea Barrera is a senior at Coeur d’Alene High School who will be studying chemical engineering in college. She participates in Key Club and band (saxophone) and enjoys reading, playing music, and attending theatre and concerts. Chelsea enjoys connecting with younger students and helping them develop skills for their education; she especially loves to see the smiles on their faces when they figure out a difficult math problem.
Kennedy Krajack is a sophomore at Lake City High School who would like to pursue a career in education as a fourth grade teacher. Kennedy is part of the CDA Rowing Team, is active in her church, and is part of Youth Volunteers of America. Kennedy coaches Math is Cool because she loves connecting with the students, giving them hope, and making them believe that they are capable of this.
Luke Decker is an 8th grader at the Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy who looks to a future involving science and math. He is active in cross country running, soccer, Math Counts, and track. Luke coaches Math is Cool because he likes math and teaching kids.
Adeline Smith is a 6th grader at Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy who hopes to someday be a writer. She plays the cello, enjoys club volleyball, and participates in Math Counts; hobbies include drawing singing, and reading. Adeline is a co-founder of Growing the STEM and initiated the Mathletes Mentor program. She likes coaching Math is Cool because she had such fun with this program when she was younger and loves sharing that with other kids.
Mr. Sigurd Panke is the special education teacher at Bryan Elementary.
These 6th-8th graders meet weekly for the Lakes Middle School Math is Cool after school program overseen by Lakes teachers Todd Best and Nicole Symons. This team was started in the fall of 2018 by Growing the STEM's team of Natalie Buzolich, Alivia Buchen, and Adelynn Smart. Special thanks to Lauren Gage and Kellie Hanna, Lakes parents, for helping to spearhead this program. The 2018-2019 team was funded by the United Way of North Idaho and Mountain West Bank. At the Math is Cool competition in Spokane in February 2019, the Lakes seventh grade team was thrilled to receive first place in the Pi division!
Natalie Buzolich is a senior at Coeur d’Alene High School who is headed off to college soon to pursue a career in engineering. She is President of the National Honor Society and Captain of
the Vikettes Dance Team, as well as a cross country runner and tap dancer. She loves working with the students each week, getting to know them better, and sharing her knowledge of math with them.
Alivia Buchen is a junior at Coeur d’Alene High School who plans to study chemical engineering. She is a trumpet player with the North Idaho Youth Symphony and an avid reader. Alivia loves working with students and helping them grow their love for math.
Adelynn Smart is a senior at Coeur d’Alene High School who will be studying biomedical engineering at college in the fall. She is ASB President of CHS and participates in soccer, Mathletes, and DECA; hobbies include skiing, listening to music, and spending time on the lake.
Adelynn helped launch a Math is Cool team at Lakes because she has a passion for math and a desire to give back to the community.
The Sorsensen Math is Cool program was started in 2014 by teacher Charlene Babb and has enjoyed many victories over the years, including sending multiple teams to the Masters level. In 2019, Growing the STEM partnered with this existing team to train student coaches to assist in the teaching and leadership of the team. All coaches are former Sorensen students who competed in Math is Cool with Ms. Babb in their elementary years. It is a special experience for these middle and high schoolers to return to work with a favorite teacher in a school to which they feel deep ties. It is our hope that, as the years go on, our new programs will also see middle and high school students return to work with younger students in their former elementary schools.
Elisabeth Edmonds is a freshman at Lake City High School. She loves to participate in local theatre, sing, play piano, read, and write poetry. She has loved coaching Math is Cool simply to engage in math and learning with kids her age and younger.
Palmer Rakes is a freshman at Lake City High School who hopes to pursue a future in the field of technology and engineering. He is active in track, soccer, CrossFit, band, and Legos. Palmer loved Math is Cool while attending Sorensen and was and is challenged by math. It has been fun for him to help others solve puzzles and new challenges; plus, Ms. Babb is a favorite
Nathan Edmonds is a 7th grader at Lakes Middle School who endeavors to be a college anthropology professor. He plays the saxophone, reads, and helps in Sorensen’s juggling and Lego programs. He enjoys coaching Math is Cool because he was a part of Sorensen’s MIC program in elementary school and finds it fun to do the math and help the kids.
Wyatt Matthews is a 7th grader at Lakes Middle School. He enjoys football, wrestling, marimbas, skiing, camping, and band.
Luke Sharon is a 7th grader at Lakes Middle School who hopes to study acting, graphic design, or video game design. His interests include theatre, art, piano, singing, and reading. Luke likes coaching a Math is Cool team because he enjoys giving the kids a fun experience.
Ben Hannigan-Luther is a 6th grader at Lakes Middle School who is interested in studying wildlife biology. He is a busy student, with commitments in soccer, basketball, band (saxophone), and drums. Ben recently created an app, “Yellowstone Wolves and Packs.”
Neve Christensen is a 6th grader at Lakes Middle School.
Joel Bryan is a 6th grader at Lakes Middle School.
Ms. Charlene Babb is the Advanced Learning Program teacher at Sorensen Magnet School of the Arts and Humanities.
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