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Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at the 2012 USA Science and Engineering Festival

"Thanks for the opportunity! We had a great time ... the whole event was light-hearted and entertaining."

"Thank you so much for hosting these competitions and providing these opportunities for our kids."

"Thank you for all you and everyone at AMS does to promote and support the mathematical education of our children. Those of us in the classrooms appreciate these events and the interest in mathematics they engender. What you do makes what I do easier."

Daniel Yang, a junior at Urbana High School in Maryland, won US$3000 and a TI-Nspire CX graphing calculator playing Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at the 2012 USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC on April 28. Here he is right after his victory:

Videos of the questions that led to his victory:

The eight contestants who played that day:

Left to right:

  • Brian Crump, Saint Anselm's Abbey School (DC)
  • Daniel Yang, Urbana High School (MD)
  • Brook Tamir, W.T. Woodson High School (VA)
  • Tiffany Sun, Dulaney High School (MD)
  • Victor Ying, Richard Montgomery High School (MD)
  • Jake Koenig, Poolesville High School (MD)
  • Saketh Are, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (VA)
  • Brian Stroh, Huntingtown High School (MD)
Slideshow of the individual contestants and more


Description of the games

Game one contestants

Victor, here explaining one of his answers, held the lead at the halfway point and held on to win game one. The victory earned him $500 and a TI-Nspire CX. Brian Crump was in second after question four, but Jake and Tiffany moved ahead of him to finish second and third, respectively.


Game two contestants The second game was a little closer and had more lead changes. At the halfway point, only 300 points separated the contestants. Saketh led the way through question five (of seven), but Daniel answered question six correctly and took over first place. He maintained his lead by answering the last question correctly as well and earned a spot against Victor in the Square-Off Round. Brook also answered the last question correctly, which put him in a tie for second with Saketh.

Victor and Daniel in the Square-Off Round

In the Square-Off Round, between Victor and Daniel, Daniel was the first to answer correctly, which earned him another $500 and a chance at the $2000 Bonus Question. The Square-Off question was about the inverse tangent function, while the Bonus Question involved the continuous action of the hour and minute hands of an analog clock.



Victor and Daniel As Daniel noted in the video he changed his answer as the clock ran down and then thought about making another change in the last few seconds. Fortunately he did not make that last change, "went with his gut," as he said, and wound up sticking with the correct answer. That earned him $3000. Below are the prizes won by the eight contestants.

  • TI-Nspire CX from Texas Instruments and $3000 from the AMS: Daniel Yang
  • TI-Nspire CX from Texas Instruments and $500 from the AMS: Victor Ying
  • Maple 16 from Maplesoft: Jake Koenig and Saketh Are
  • Calculus by Anton, Bivens and Davis, from John Wiley and Sons: Tiffany Sun and Brook Tamir
  • What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences, from the AMS: Brian Crump and Brian Stroh

The AMS thanks sponsors Texas Instruments, Maplesoft, and John Wiley and Sons for supporting Who Wants to Be a Mathematician.

Photographs above by Anita Benjamin (Assistant Director of the AMS Washington Office) and Bill Butterworth (Who Wants to Be a Mathematician co-creator and judge, DePaul University Department of Mathematics and Statistics). Text (and photos below) by Mike Breen (Who Wants to Be a Mathematician host and AMS Public Awareness Officer).

Find out more about Who Wants to Be a Mathematician and more about the 2012 USASEF.

Festival attendance was up in 2012

Exhibit on the senses

... which was confirmed by the Senses Bureau.