Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at the University of Nebraska


"Who Wants to be a Mathematician was a very nice addition to the normal Math Day competitions. It was well planned and well executed."
Albert Zhou, a junior at Lincoln Southwest High School, delighted a packed house of over 250 students and teachers from across Nebraska when he won US$3000 and a TINspire playing Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at the University of NebraskaLincoln's Twentieth Anniversary Math Day on November 12. Approximately 1400 high school students participated in Math Day individual tests and team competitions, and witnessed the first Who Wants to Be a Mathematician webcast, which was shown in locations at the university and online.

Left: Students taking the morning test, PROBE I. Above: Action from the first round of the team competition. 
The eight contestants were selected based on their performance on the written exam, PROBE I (Problems Requiring Original and Brilliant Effort), taken by all the students at the beginning of the day.
Front row, left to right: Jahan Claes, Lincoln East High School; and Hayoon Lee, Lincoln Southwest High School Second row: Darrin Kim, Lincoln East High School; and Katie Sedlar, Lux Middle School Jahan got the first four questions right and held on to win this game (along with $500 and a TINspire graphing calculator). Katie qualified as a middle school student, which indicates not only that she did well on PROBE I, but also that she has a bright future in subsequent Math Days. 



Front row (left to right): Sangwon Bahng, Mt. Michael Benedictine High School; and Maesen Churchill, Lincoln East High School Second row: Thomas "TJ" Fryklind, Archbishop Bergan Catholic School; and Albert Zhou, Lincoln Southwest High School Albert missed only questions three and seven and edged Maesen by 100 points to win game two, $500 and the TINspire. 

Jahan and Albert then squared off for another $500 and a chance at the Bonus Question, worth $2000. Albert answered very quickly and was correct, so he earned a trip to the Bonus Round.

There were many activities that day, so there wasn't much time for Albert to explain his answer to either the SquareOff question or the Bonus question, but however he solved them, he solved them well, earning a total of $3000 in cash and a TINspire. He's pictured below with Jahan, their calculators, and checks that are topologicallybut not financiallyequivalent to the real thing.

Here are all the prizes won that afternoon in Who Wants to Be a Mathematician.
 TINspire graphing calculator from Texas Instruments and $3000 from the AMS: Albert Zhou
 TINspire graphing calculator from Texas Instruments and $500 from the AMS: Jahan Claes
 Maple 13 from Maplesoft: Hayoon Lee and Maesen Churchill
 Calculus by Anton, Bivens and Davis from John Wiley and Sons: Katie Sedlar and Sangwon Bahng
 What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences from the AMS: Darrin Kim and Thomas Fryklind
The AMS thanks sponsors Texas Instruments, Maplesoft, and John Wiley and Sons for their continued generous support of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician. Thanks also to Gordon Woodward and Lori Mueller of the university's Department of Mathematics for their help, and for coordinating the many activities that day. Below are pictures of some of the 2009 Math Day individual and team winners.





Read more about Math Day, including Albert also winning the Math Day top prize of an $8000 scholarship, in the Lincoln Journal Star article about the lecture and game: "Lincoln East top team at Math Day, LSW's Zhou top individual."
Random shots from Lincoln:

The university's flags honor the days before exponents. 
Photographs by Gordon Woodward (University of NebraskaLincoln Department of Mathematics), Who Wants to Be a Mathematician judge and cocreator Bill Butterworth (DePaul University Department of Mathematical Sciences), and Who Wants to Be a Mathematician host and AMS Public Awareness Officer Mike Breen. Text by Mike Breen.
Find out more about Who Wants to Be a Mathematician.