It is great that the AMS is able to conduct this competition which values and encourages mathematical talent. While sports are usually celebrated, it is wonderful that students interested in mathematics can also be encouraged. I sincerely hope that many more students gain the opportunity to participate in this competition.
"She had a great time, met some new people, and used her mathematical skills to think about some questions she's never seen before. I was at the games and enjoyed watching the whole process. You are doing good things for the girls in our community. Thanks again."
"Michelle is so excited to have won, and our school is very proud. It was a great experience."
Who Wants to Be a Mathematician traveled to Arizona State University's West campus for its Sonia Kovalevsky Mathematics Day on March 28. Michelle Coen, a junior at Apollo High School, was the big winner, winning $1000 from the AMS and a TI-Nspire CX from Texas Instruments.
Here's a very happy Michelle just after the game:
Sonia Kovalevsky Mathematics Day was organized by Omayra Ortega of the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences. She is pictured below with the eight Who Wants to Be a Mathematician contestants.
Left to right: Karaline Petty, Herberger Young Scholars Academy, Ranee Yan, Centennial High School, Sumaita Mulk, Herberger Young Scholars Academy, Angelica Pangan, Mesa High School, Jocelyn Mendoza, Trevor G. Browne High School, Jiayang Li, Desert Mountain High School, Talia Khan, Xavier College Preparatory, Michelle Coen, Apollo High School, and Dr. Ortega
Michelle won this game on the last question. Ranee was in first at the halfway point, followed by Sumaita. That order held for two questions but Michelle and Angelica moved into a tie for first after question six. That also held for two questions, and Michelle won by being the only one to answer the last question correctly. That victory earned her \$500, a TI-Nspire CX, and a place in the Square-Off Round against the eventual game two winner (for another \$500 and a chance at the $2000 Bonus Question).
In a Who Wants to Be a Mathematician first, a young audience member volunteered a very good explanation of one of the tough questions, on which two of the contestants had answered correctly by guessing. It was unusual to have an explanation come from the audience, but the reasoning and figuring were exactly right.
This game was not as dramatic. The order of finish--Jiayang, Jocelyn, Karaline, and Talia--stayed the same from the halfway point until the end. So Jiayang won the $500, the TI-Nspire CX, and a trip (a little shorter than trans-oceanic) to the Square-Off Round against Michelle.
Square-Off and Bonus:
In the Square-Off Round, Jiayang signaled in first, but was incorrect. Michelle later revealed that she had narrowed down the choices to two, one of which was the choice Jiayang made, so with that choice eliminated, Michelle signaled in a few seconds later with the correct answer (Jiayang had also narrowed the choices to the same two as Michelle). That gave her a chance at the $2000 Bonus Question. Unfortunately, Michelle didn't choose correctly on this question, about polynomials, but as you can see in the video at the top of the page, that did not dampen her enthusiasm at all, or her love of math.
Here are all the prizes and cash won by the contestants:
Thanks very much to our sponsors: Maplesoft, the Who Wants to Be a Mathematician technology sponsor, Texas Instruments, and John Wiley and Sons. Thanks also to Omayra Ortega, who arranged everything for the game (and the whole day).
Video by Bill Butterworth, DePaul University, co-creator and judge of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician. Photos by Mike Breen (AMS), co-creator and host of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician. Text by Mike Breen.
Find out more about Who Wants to Be a Mathematician.