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.


Young Scholar wins the Grand Prize in Who Wants To Be A Mathematician

Grand prize winner Ryan Hendrickson with teacher and fellow contestants

Ryan Hendrickson (front row, second from right) with fellow contestants and teachers.

As both luck and skill would have it, Ryan Hendrickson, from South River High School in Edgewater, Maryland, got to the final question of the Who Wants To Be A Mathematician game with just two minutes to spare in the allotted session time: skill alone earned him the $2000 Grand Prize donated by the AMS. The game, held in a hall with a capacity of 450, was well-attended, both by Maryland high school students and by mathematicians at the Joint Mathematics Meetings.



The large number of fellow classmates in the audience--cheering and holding up banners--made for a fun time and provided moral support for those contestants who made it to the "hot seat" facing emcee Mike Breen and progressively difficult questions. But the audience gave more than moral support. When put on the spot themselves as "lifelines," the students and mathematicians came through each time the contestants opted to "Ask the Audience." One student opted for the "Ask Your Teacher" lifeline and again the teacher fulfilled his role by providing help at that crucial point.

Eleven high school students qualified to play the game, and four answered the "fastest finger" questions correctly and in the fastest time to go for the Grand Prize on their own:

Round 1: Bob Meyer, Parkville High School for Mathematics, Science and Computer Science, Baltimore
Round 2: Barry Revzin, Richard Montgomery High School, Rockville
Round 3: Sayan Chaki, Atholton High School, Columbia
Round 4: Andy Parrish, Towson High School, Towson

The game's new format, developed by host Mike Breen (AMS Public Awareness Officer) and co-creator Bill Butterworth (Barat College of DePaul University), allowed all of the remaining contestants to participate in the final Round 5--the round in which Ryan Hendrickson outlasted everyone by correctly answering the final toughest questions.

Round 5 contestants: Julian Evans, Northwest High School, Germantown; Eric Marberg, Walt Whitman High School, Bethesda; Ryan Hendrickson, South River High School, Edgewater; John Novak, Glenelg High School, Glenelg; Samuel Alemayhu, High Point High School, Beltsville; Chelsea Erickson, C. Milton Wright High School, Bel Air; and Jeanna Beard, Arundel High School, Gambrills.

The prizes--t-shirts, books, journal subscriptions, graphing calculator and software--were donated by the AMS, MAA, John Wiley, Texas Instruments, and Waterloo Maple.

Who Wants To Be A Mathematician is an outreach program of the AMS Public Awareness Office. Read about Who Wants To Be A Mathematician games that were held at past Joint Mathematics Meetings, on Pi Day, and at the Arnold Ross Lectures for young scholars.

---Annette Emerson, AMS Public Awareness Officer

More highlights of the 2003 Joint Mathematics Meetings


American Mathematical Society