FAIRMONT– Fairmont High School’s Trig Star Team performed well at a regional competition in Mankato on March 10. There student Kennedy Becker placed second overall out of around 100 competitors.
The event is sponsored by the Minnesota Society of Professional Surveyors (MSPS) with the goal of building awareness of real-world math applications.
“Anytime that you get an opportunity to see how a math concept can be used outside of the math classroom, that’s always a bonus when it comes to high school students,” said Jerry Brooks, a math teacher who coaches the team.
“It was a lot of fun being with people, doing something that we’re not necessarily used to doing, trying something new and learning about a career that a lot of people don’t consider,” said Will Niestrath, a member of Fairmont’s team.
The competition consists of a closed book trigonometry test which features four different problems of varying difficulty. Each year one problem is a real-life case of a challenge a member of MSPS encountered in surveying work. Points are awarded based on the speed and accuracy of the students’ results.
“They’re trying to open the eyes of a possible career pathway of becoming a surveyor,” said Brooks.
Becker received the top score on the exam but finished behind one other student. For placing second overall Becker received a prize of $75 and an engraved plaque. Another Fairmont student, Ty Nawrocki, received the same score on the test but did not finish quickly enough to make the top five.
Trig Star’s regional contests also select the state champions because the tests distributed to all of the state’s competitors are identical. The Minnesota students who score the highest at their regional events are selected as the state champions and qualify for the national Trig Star Contest which will be held in Washington D.C. this summer.
In addition to individual prizes the school with the best average score is also recognized. Fairmont was the defending champion after the 2022 competition but placed second and was unable to retain the title.
Students in Brooks’s trigonometry and pre-calc classes dedicated a week to preparing for the competition. Those that did not compete in this year’s competition completed a similar test in the classroom.
“We treat it like every single one of the students is going to the competition,” said Brooks.
After the test was completed students at the event had an opportunity to meet with several representatives of companies who perform surveying work, including Cody Meyer, a Fairmont alumni who now works for ISG Inc. in Mankato.