Diablo Vista Middle School placed won first place in a national math competition against 16 schools in February, with one of its students earning a perfect score.
A group of four students -- three eighth graders and one sixth grader -- ranked among the top 10 students in the MATHCOUNTS competition, a national middle school coaching and competitive mathematics program that promotes mathematics achievement through a series of fun and engaging "bee" style contests.
"They're trying to enhance student's appreciation of math. The problems are fun problems to work out and they really increases a student's problem solving skills," said Jim Salvi, a teaching coordinator for MATHCOUNTS.
Diablo Vista is part of MATHCOUNTS' East Bay chapter and has been prepping for competition since the beginning of September. Students stay after school on Friday afternoons to practice algebra, geometry and probability with coordinators and student coaches from Monte Vista High.
"There's not always opportunities to dive into a passion when it's academic," said Principal Rebecca Ingram, noting that most middle schoolers don't want to be anywhere near campus after the final bell rings on Friday. "It gives them a whole other place to succeed."
These after school math whizzes are part of an informal club students must sign up for. Diablo Vista usually begins the year with 30 students, which slowly whittles down to four team members and a few independent mathletes by competition time.
" I really thing that this is where our future engineers and scientists are coming from," Salvi said.
After a sprint round to test accuracy, a target round where pairs complete multi-step problems and a team round which consists of 10 problems, Diablo Vista beat Head-Royce School in Oakland by 10.25 points to become champion of the chapter.
Individual competition, Jianming Wang placed first with a perfect score of 46, Bonnie Chen placed fourth and Christopher Hou and Casandra Chung placed fifth and seventh, respectively.
The top three schools in the chapter competition will advance to the state competition on March 19 at Stanford University. Diablo Vista has attended the state competition twice in the past seven years.
Four mathletes will then be selected from the state competition to represent California at the 2011 Raytheon MATHCOUNTS National Competition in Washington D.C. in May.