by Dennis Dalman
For the second time in two years, Austin Sura of Sartell once again competed at the Minnesota Math Counts competition.
Sura, 14, is an eighth-grade student at Sartell Middle School.
His brother, Brandon, achieved the same feat, two years in a row, when he was a student in 7th and 8th grade. Brandon is now a junior at Sartell High School.
The two brothers have always excelled, almost effortlessly, in mathematics.
Math Counts, designed for middle-school students, is a program meant to stimulate students into an exploration of math so it becomes as “challenging, exciting and prestigious as school sports.” It is coordinated by members of the Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers, who work closely with teachers.
Sura was one of four middle-school students who scored high in a Math Count test, then he qualified for state competition at a chapter meet at St. Cloud State University. The state meet, which took most of a day, was held last week in Plymouth. There were two grueling rounds – one of eight questions, the other of 30 questions. All of the competitors gathered in one large room for the tests, which were all written ones. Here is one of the questions asked:
“There are five integers that form an arithmetical sequence with the mean of 18. If the mean of the squares of the five integers is 374, what is the largest of the five original integers?”
The answer, of course, is 28.
Even though he didn’t qualify for the nationals, Sura was happy to compete at the state level.
“It was good to beat out about 100 others students at the chapter meet that qualified me for state,” Sura said. “It was good to go to state. It was my second time. I was excited.”
Before going to state, Sura spent some time practicing with some problems in a practice book.
“It’s mainly about logical thinking,” he said. “It’s not so much about formulas.”
Sura’s coach for Math Counts is Lori Dornburg of Sartell Middle School. Last year’s advisor was Joyce Schneider, the school’s advanced-math teacher who retired this year. Schneider, however, helped out with Math Counts this year and provided Sura with some helpful study materials.
Sura is a well-rounded student who also enjoys tennis, soccer and hockey.
Sura and brother Brandon are the sons of Michelle Sura and the late Rick Sura, who died tragically at age 42 of a rare form of cancer five years ago after battling it for 12 years.