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.
Daniel Sheinberg, a junior at Barrington High School, won $3,000 playing Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at Providence College on Pi Day. Here's Daniel just after his victory.
Pictured below are AMS Executive Director Catherine Roberts and the 10 Rhode Island contestants who qualified
Front (left to right): Catherine Roberts, Eric Song, Moses Brown School, Justin Paik, The Wheeler School, Alli Mowry, Cumberland High School, Reese Kostka, Blackstone Academy, and Mary Breen, Classical High School
Back (l to r): Timothy Mitchell, Portsmouth High School, Daniel Sheinberg, Barrington High School, Thomas Purcell, East Greenwich High School, Connor Gray, Woonsocket High School, and John Chen, St. Andrew's School
Frank Ford, from the Providence College Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, and Catherine Roberts, executive director of the AMS, welcomed the students and the crowd, which was a little smaller than it might have been because of a winter storm the day before which on Pi Day caused some schools to cancel or start late.
Just before the first game started, the audience showed their appreciation for the teachers in attendance.
At the halfway point of game one, Justin held a narrow lead over Reese and Alli, who were tied for second. Justin held his lead until the last question which Eric answered correctly to win the game. Finishing first earned Eric $500 from the AMS, a TI-Nspire graphing calculator from Texas Instruments, and a spot in the Square-Off Round against the eventual game two winner. This is probably a good time to mention that Mary Breen, who finished in fourth place, just behind Reese, is no relation to game host Mike Breen.
Game two was also a very close match. Timothy, Thomas, and Daniel were tied for first at the halfway point, with all five contestants only 200 points apart. No one answered question five correctly and after question six, Timothy and Daniel moved into a two-way tie for first, 100 points ahead of John, who was 100 points ahead of Connor. All the contestants answered question seven correctly and the tie for first was resolved when Daniel answered the last question correctly but Timothy didn't, which put Daniel into the Square-Off Round. The 200-point gap between first and third remained at the end of the game.
In the Square-Off Round, which was a question that required some insight and some figuring, Eric signaled in first but was incorrect. That gave Daniel 60 seconds to signal in and say his answer. When he did, he was correct, which earned him another $500 and a chance at the $2,000 Bonus Question. Daniel thought a long time about the Bonus Question and seemed to want to change his answer as time ran out. Eventually, though, he decided to stick with his first answer. That turned out to be a good decision, because the answer he stuck with was correct, earning Daniel a total of $3,000 for the morning.
Our sponsors: Maplesoft, the Who Wants to Be a Mathematician Technology Sponsor; Art of Problem Solving, the Online Community Sponsor; Texas Instruments; and John Wiley and Sons
Frank Ford and Lynne DeMasi of Providence College, who coordinated everything at PC.
The students, teachers, parents, and bus drivers who braved the elements to attend and cheer on the contestants.
Bill Butterworth (Who Wants to Be a Mathematician co-creator and tech guru), DePaul University, who managed to get to Rhode Island from Chicago without the use of a sled dog.
AMS staffers: Annette Emerson, Samantha Faria, Don Luther, and Tongtong Wang, for helping that day. Annette, Samantha, and 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 (no relation to Mary), AMS Public Awareness Office.