The 25th annual regional MATHCOUNTS competition challenged more than 200 students from 21 schools throughout Southern Maryland to test their math skills at Calvert Middle School in Prince Frederick on Saturday, Feb. 2.

A competitive technological world requires a proficiency in mathematics as a foundation for success in science, technology, and engineering. MATHCOUNTS aims to boost student interest in mathematics by making the subject challenging and entertaining, according to a release from Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, which sponsors the annual local event.

Each year, more than 500 regional competitions are held in middle schools across the country, with winners advancing to state competitions and then to the national competition.

The local MATHCOUNTS competition features rounds of mathematics problems to challenge students one-on-one and as teams over the course of the three-hour event. First is the sprint round, a 30-question test that students complete individually. The competitors go next to the target round, where they have four sets of math problems and six minutes to complete each set of two questions.

In the individual competition, which is based on combined scores in the sprint and target rounds, Calvert County students Kyle Page from Northern Middle School placed first, and Seth Hilton from Plum Point Middle School placed second.

The top 12 scorers finish the competition by facing each other in the countdown round, a single-elimination tournament in which students must respond verbally to questions in a matter of seconds. Avery Thompson from Leonardtown Middle School in St. Mary’s County finished first in the countdown round and Hogan Joo from Northern Middle School in Calvert placed second.

In the team round, foursomes of students answer 10 questions in 20 minutes. In the team competition, Northern Middle School won first place, and Plum Point Middle School placed second.

Leonardtown Middle School won third place in the team round. Team members included Ben Dodge, Chloe Hair, Mika Jones and Avery Thompson, coached by Kathryn Smith. The team from Spring Ridge Middle School took fourth place and Windy Hill Middle School took fifth place.

Sponsors for the local MATHCOUNTS competition are SMECO and the Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s county public schools, with the support of the National Society of Professional Engineers. Volunteers from SMECO helped score the tests. Winners of the Southern Maryland chapter competition will go on to compete in the statewide contest at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The top four individual competitors from each state competition receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the national competition in Orlando, Fla., in May.

According to its website, MATHCOUNTS alumni are more likely to continue with science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with three out of every four alumni studying a STEM field in college — nearly three times the national average. And MATHCOUNTS builds the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for success: 95 percent of teachers believe that MATHCOUNTS problems are effective at improving their students’ problem-solving and critical thinking skills.