## Monday, September 26, 2011

### Albany Area Math Circle helpers with Math Prize for Girls

It started with a "stuffing party" at the Union College Kenney Community Center.  Thanks to math circle volunteers Sue Bieber, Rita Biswas, Elena Dolginova, Cecilia Holodak, Catherine Miller, Zubin Mukerjee, Elizabeth Parizh; Gili, Michal, and Zvi Rusak, and Alexandra Schmidt as well as Advantage Testing administrator Tina Lesem, hundreds of Math Prize for Girls tote bags got stuffed with pencils, bluebooks, blank answer forms, hats and flowers, copies of the rules and other handouts of Math Prize information.
 Gili and Catherine got to be experts at "artisanly fluffing" the fabric flowers.

 Of course, hugs and giggles are inevitable when you confront stacks of hundreds of hats.

Alexandra's awesome shirt made the event even more awesome, of course.    (If you are wondering how YOU can get a shirt as awesome as hers, you need to know they are not for sale!  You have to earn one--by composing and submitting a set of your own cool original problems to MATHCOUNTS.   Both coaches and students can submit problems.  If yours are selected for their Problems of the Month feature, then you too can have a shirt like Alexandra's.  Details are here.  And bear in mind that writing your own original problems is a great way to develop your problem solving skills too!)

But I digress ...

A week later Math Prize for Girls happened at MIT--and it was also completely awesome!   The expertly and artisanly stuffed bags made the start of the day much smoother this year.    The photo at right shows lei-clad proctor Elisse Ghitelman greeting students and handing them bags with everything they would need (except, of course, for the test itself, which she distributed later.)

Later that day, Albany Area Math Circle alumni Gurtej Kanwar, Zagreb Mukerjee, Liz Simon, and Felix Sun, all college students in Cambridge now, helped out in the grading room.  The picture below shows Felix with some of the other MIT student volunteers wearing some of those artisanly fluffed flowers clipped to their hats, adding a very cheerful note to the festivities.

Albany Area Math Circle was proud to have four participants in Math Prize for Girls this year--Cecilia Holodak and Elizabeth Parizh from Niskayuna High School, Gili Rusak from Shaker, and Wanwan Fei from Emma Willard.  It was a bit crowded and chaotic after the ceremony, so we did not manage to get a photo with all our contestants and volunteers, but we did manage to get Felix, Elizabeth, Cecilia, Wanwan, and myself (with my own artisanly fluffed flower!) into a photo here:

A special note of thanks to Albany Area Math Circle advisor, Rita Biswas, who drove all the stuffed tote bags to Cambridge, and then spent three days with us making sure that countless details of Math Prize 2011 went smoothly!

## Saturday, September 3, 2011

### Math Circle alum wins Harvard Social Studies essay prize

In yet another demonstration of the "Do math and you can do anything!" motto, a shout-out of congratulations goes to Albany Area Math Circle alumnus Zagreb Mukerjee.

Zagreb (shown above with a middle school math circle he led during his high school years) is now a junior at Harvard concentrating in Social Studies, a unique all-honors program which requires a great deal of independent research and analytical writing.

Last week, the Harvard Social Studies department announced that Zagreb was a winner of the Mill-Taylor prize for his epistemological essay titled Utilitarianism and its Discontents.

MILL-TAYLOR PRIZE The Mill-Taylor Prize is awarded for the two best Social Studies 10 essays written by any sophomore concentrating in Social Studies. The prize is given out at the beginning of the junior year.

The apparent moral of the story: if you can explain advanced mathematics clearly enough to excite eager and enthusiastic young students, then writing an expository analytical essay on epistemology is a piece of cake.

### Albany Area Math Circle student off to Russia

Congratulations to Wyatt Smith, an Albany Area Math Circle rising senior, who has demonstrated once again that our math circle students excel in a broad variety of domains.

Eleventh-grader Wyatt Smith of Clifton Park was the winner of the second annual Albany-Tula Alliance Student Essay Contest.

Smith will be traveling to Russia in September 2011 with a chaperone from the Albany-Tula Alliance for a two week stay in Tula. There he and two other contest winners will meet with other students and have an opportunity to attend classes at Lev Tolstoy Tula State Pedagogical Institute.

In this year's competition, which took place in February, students ages 16 to 18 submitted 1,500 word essays on the role that the space race might play in maintaining world peace and technological cooperation.