Cellphones: A cautionary tale

During yesterday’s Massachusetts Math League meet in Westford, a cell phone belonging to a student from a nearby high school (neither Weston nor Westford) emitted a tone during the first round. She pulled the phone out of her pocket, looked at the screen for awhile, pressed a button, and put it away. The proctor, assuming that she had received a text message, reported the incident.

The girl claimed that it was merely a “low battery” message.

Perhaps that’s all it was. Probably in fact that’s what it was. But it was still a gross violation of the rules, which prohibit not only the use of cell phones when competing but even the presence of cell phones in the room. Students are supposed to keep their phones in the prep room and not carrying them into the competition rooms. They know the rules.

If, of course, a student turns off her phone and puts it in her pocket, no one will know if she has brought it into the competition room. But that’s not what happened here. So she received a zero for the round, affecting not only her own score (reducing her possible total from 18 to 12) but also her team’s score. Perhaps that penalty was not sufficiently severe.

And the moral is…

Categories: Teaching & Learning, Technology