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Who Wants to Be a Mathematician on Pi Day 2019 at Providence College

Annika Kelly, a senior at Barrington High School, won \$1,000 playing Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at Providence College on Pi Day. Here's Annika just after her victory.

It was an exciting day, hosted by the Providence College Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, and attended by about 200 Rhode Island students and teachers.

The crowd was welcomed by Frank Ford, who called roll of the schools (present, but not in the video, were the Moses Brown School and Lincoln High School).

The welcomes continued with AMS Executive Director Catherine Roberts, who talked about the AMS and its strong connections with Rhode Island, and Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Ken Wagner, who told the audience about the importance of mathematics.

Each of the 10 contestants received certificates from Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, and Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse. The certificates were awarded by Catherine and Ken.


Left to right: Ken Wagner; Annika Kelly, Barrington High School; Julie Andrade, Cumberland High School; Katie Lee, Portsmouth High School; Mary Breen, Classical High School; Yiru Li, Lincoln High School; Alex Gavitt, Toll Gate High School; Nadya Lenhert, Cranston High School East; Eric Tang, The Wheeler School; Eric Song, Moses Brown School; Brant Wei, East Greenwich High School; and Catherine Roberts.

Congratulations to all the contestants on qualifying, and to Mary, Yiru, and Eric Song, who were repeat contestants. Note: Even though she did qualify two years in a row, Mary is no relation to Who Wants to Be a Mathematician host Mike Breen.

See photos of the action:

The audience gave a rousing welcome to the game one contestants:


Game one After six questions, four of the five contestants were tied for first place, all four having answered each question correctly. Mary and Alex missed question seven, but Annika and Eric Tang didn't, so the latter two moved into a tie for first going into the last question. They both answered that one correctly, too, so a tie-breaking question was used to determine first place. Annika was first to answer correctly, which give her first place, \$500 from the AMS, a TI-Nspire graphing calculator, and a spot in the Square-Off Round against the eventual game two winner. Eric finished second, followed by Alex in third.


Game twoEric Song, a \$500 winner in the 2018 Pi Day Who Wants to Be a Mathematician, answered every question correctly in this game, to earn the equivalent cash and prizes that Annika had won in game one, and a spot in the Square-Off Round against her. Yiru, who had qualified as a sophomore, missed only two questions and finished in second place. Brant finished third, just ahead of Katie.


Square-Off RoundAnnika and Eric squared off for another \$500 and a chance at the \$2000 Bonus Question. Annika signaled in very quickly and was correct. She moved on to the Bonus Round, and was close, but unfortunately did not get the question correct. She still had a pretty good day, though, winning \$1,000 in the morning and appearing with Catherine on the ABC 6 News that evening.


Annika and Eric



Here are all the videos, including questions from the game, from the introductions to Annika just after her victory.



Prizes Awarded

  • TI-Nspire CX graphing calculator from Texas Instruments and \$1,000 from the AMS: Annika Kelly, Barrington High School
  • TI-Nspire CX graphing calculator from Texas Instruments and \$500 from the AMS: Eric Song, Moses Brown School
  • Maple 2018 from Maplesoft: Eric Tang, The Wheeler School, and Yiru Li, Lincoln High School
  • Calculus with Early Transcendentals by Anton, Bivens and Davis from John Wiley and Sons: Alex Gavitt, Toll Gate High School, and Brant Wei, East Greenwich High School
  • AHA! Solutions by Martin Erickson from the AMS: Mary Breen, Classical High School, and Katie Lee, Portsmouth High School
  • What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences, Vol. 10 from the AMS: Julie Andrade, Cumberland High School, and Nadya Lehnert, Cranston High School East

Thank You

Our sponsors: Maplesoft, the Who Wants to Be a Mathematician Technology Sponsor; Art of Problem Solving, the Online Community Sponsor; Texas Instruments; Wolfram Research, and John Wiley and Sons.

Frank Ford, Lynne DeMasi, and Morgan Victor of Providence College, who coordinated everything, including the AV, at PC.

The students and teachers, who were such a great audience, exuberantly rooting for and cheering on the contestants.

Bill Butterworth (Who Wants to Be a Mathematician co-creator and tech guru), DePaul University.

AMS staffers: Jill Connolly, Annette Emerson, Samantha Faria, Don Luther, and Tongtong Wang, for helping that day. Tongtong took all the photos. Annette and Samantha shot the videos.

Find out more about Who Wants to Be a Mathematician.

Text by Mike Breen, AMS Public Awareness Office.