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Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at Providence College

"Once again you put on a great show. WWTBAM is hands down the best math competition around."

"We had a great time as we always do. The kids said that it was the best field trip ever."

"Thanks for providing this wonderful opportunity. Hope to attend again next year."

"We really had a good time. It was a good feeling to be around all of the mathematical enthusiasm."

Seth Neel, a junior at The Wheeler School, won $3000 from the AMS and a TI-Nspire graphing calculator from Texas Instruments playing Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at Providence College on April 6. Below are pictures and a description of the contest, and a slideshow. The event was held as part of Mathematics Awareness Month, whose theme this year is "Mathematics and Sports."


The eight RI high school students (pictured above) who competed that day are

Front, left to right:
  • Mike Desmarais, Bishop Hendricken High School
  • Rathanak Chhay, Woonsocket High School
  • Seth  Neel, The Wheeler School
  • Erica Chan, The Lincoln School

Back, left to right:

  • Steven Petteruti, Rocky Hill School
  • Stephen Lamontagne, Barrington High School
  • Parker Kuklinski, Portsmouth High School
  • Elizabeth Powers, Mt. Hope High School


Game one contestants

Game one was a battle between Mike Desmarais and Stephen Lamontagne, which Stephen won. Mike and Stephen each missed only one question; all four contestants answered the last question correctly. In game two, Seth Neel and Parker Kuklinski also missed only one question, but Parker's only miss was on a question worth more than the one Seth missed, so Seth won. Both games had a bit of a reunion feel to them as three of the "helpers" were former contestants in previous Who Wants to Be a Mathematician contests held in Rhode Island: Joseph Futoma of Portsmouth (2008), Alexander Kithes of Woonsocket (2009), and Xiaotian Wu of Rocky Hill (2009). (Photo by Terry Coes)

AudienceMt Hope t-shirts
(Photos above by Terry Coes)

Parker's fans

As a result of winning their games, Stephen and Seth each had $500 from the AMS and a TI-Nspire from Texas Instruments. The two contestants then went head-to-head on the Square-Off question for another $500 and a chance at the $2000 Bonus question.


Square-Off QuestionBonus
(Photo above right by Terry Coes)

Both contestants missed the first Square-Off question, which involved the Pigeonhole Principle, but on the second question, about numbers, Seth was the first to answer correctly, so he earned a chance at the Bonus question. He took all his time on this question, which also involved numbers, and answered correctly to win the $2000, and a total of $3000. The prizes won by all the contestants are:
  • TI-Nspire graphing calculator from Texas Instruments, and $3000 from the AMS: Seth Neel
  • TI-Nspire graphing calculator from Texas Instruments and $500 from the AMS: Stephen Lamontagne
  • Maple 13 from Maplesoft: Mike Desmarais and Parker Kuklinski
  • Calculus with Early Transcendentals by Anton, Bivens and Davis from John Wiley and Sons: Rathanak Chhay and Steven Petteruti
  • What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences from the AMS: Erica Chan and Elizabeth Powers

Thanks to the sponsors Texas Instruments, Maplesoft, and John Wiley and Sons, for their continued support of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician. Thanks also to Frank Ford and Lynne DeMasi, of the Providence College Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, for making all the arrangements for the contest, and to Mother Nature for (finally) delivering sunny skies.

The Providence Journal covered the contest, interviewing Seth, his mother, and his teacher. Read the article "Providence, RI, teen wins state mathematics competition" and see their video.


Uncredited photographs by Who Wants to Be a Mathematician judge and co-creator Bill Butterworth (DePaul University Department of Mathematical Sciences), AMS Public Awareness Officer Annette Emerson, and Managing Editor of the "Notices of the AMS" Sandy Frost Breen.

Find out more about Who Wants to Be a Mathematician.