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.
On April 28, eight Rhode Island high school students competed in the new AMS game, Do the Math!. Providence College hosted the game, which was part of Mathematics Awareness Month 2004 celebrations.
The new game format consisted of two rounds of play with four and five contestants playing simultaneously. The game--as in the Who Wants To Be A Mathematician game--consists of increasingly difficult pre-calculus questions. In this format the contestants accumulate points by answering multiple-choice questions. Each question has a time limit, which varies according to the question's difficulty. Contestants use an electronic device to signal their answers before the time has expired, and all have the opportunity to earn points for correct answers. Each contestant can ask for help once from his or her teacher. The contestant with the most points at the end of the game earns a chance to answer a bonus question worth $2,000. The new game was developed by AMS Public Awareness Officer Mike Breen and DePaul University mathematics professor Bill Butterworth.
Two students earned the most points to try for the bonus question $2,000 prize: In Round One, Miriam Klein, a student at Classical High School, and in Round Two, Marcus Alexander, a student at The Wheeler School. Each therefore went on to the bonus question worth $2,000, but both missed the correct answer. Miriam didn't opt to ask for help, and Alexander had already used his help option earlier in the round. However, each played impressively and won the Maple 9.50 prize donated by Maplesoft.
The contestants were cheered on by their fellow classmates, teachers, parents, and also by students and faculty from Providence College. The students who qualified to play in the two rounds of Do the Math! were:
The other prizes earned were T-shirts from the AMS; What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences, a set of five volumes by Barry Cipra, published by the AMS; Anton's Calculus book and access to the website Machina, from John Wiley and Sons; and TI-89 Titanium graphing calculators from Texas Instruments. Each contestant also received and AMS briefcase with a t-shirt from Maplesoft, an icosahedron from the Mathematical Association of America; and a cap and water bottle from the AMS.
After the game The Providence Journal reporter Bryan Rourke interviewed Alexander "Xander" Marcus, as the news had spread that Xander had qualified to play in these AMS games for four years in a row.The The Providence Journal did publish Rourke's write-up about the game, "Fun challenge for math whizzes, calculated risk for the rest," on April 29.
The AMS thanks all the students for games well-played, and also their teachers and parents, Providence College, and all the prize donors who support the games.