Four local middle school students, who will soon compete in a national math competition, need your votes for a national math video challenge. The team has prepared all year for both contests.

At the Patriots Training Center, which creates a pipeline for students to end up on career paths in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), a team of four spent the early morning hours Wednesday practicing math problems at the center. One of their coaches, David Lai, was there to help.

"We've done a lot of preparing, working for four to eight hours every weekend," said 12-year-old Lance Rogers, who is one of the youngest members on the MathCounts team at the center.

The mathletes use a special program that generates math problems from previous competitions under MathCounts, a national non-profit that provides engaging math programs and competitions to middle school students.

“The easiest is the algebra work because that's what we're doing in class,” said team member Julian Thomas. “Then, the hardest part is geometry because that's what we're doing.”

Lance Rogers, Julian Thomas, Justice Flora and Christian Jenkins are all members of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Jr. Chapter. In November, the team of competed in NSBE’s regional math competition and won first place. Now, their sights are set on the national competition at NSBE’s annual convention in Kansas City at the end of the month.

“It’s been a pleasure working with such an engaged team,” said David Lai, one of two coaches who went on to explain some of the rules for the very rigorous national competition. "For some problems, they're allowed to use calculators , some they are not. For some they work in teams, other times they work individually."

The other challenge that lies ahead is placing in the Top 100 of the MathCounts video challenge. Participating teams are tasked to apply a MathCounts problem to the real world and illustrate a solution. The team’s creative video is about a superhero delivering pizzas with challenges that are ‘out of this world.’ The public has until March 14 to vote online here. It will not take long.

Once the votes are in, the top 100 videos will advance to the next round. In the end, the winning team will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship for each student.

As for the winning team at NSBE’s national math contest, a sponsorship to compete in the 2017 Raytheon Math-Counts National Competition in Orlando, Florida will be awarded.

Good luck, guys!