Monday, May 21, 2012
NY team scales new heights at MATHCOUNTS Nationals
The New York State MATHCOUNTS team raised the bar to the highest heights in recent memory with a fourth place finish at the National MATHCOUNTS competition held in Orlando, Florida last week. The photo above shows the team celebrating on Expedition Everest at Disney World after the contest.
Three-year team veteran Allen Liu from the Rochester area reached the National Countdown for the third consecutive year, the first New Yorker ever to accomplish this feat, and reached the semifinals for a top four individual finish.
Albany Area Math Circle's own Alex Wei had one of the best finishes ever for an Albany Area mathlete, coming in a very impressive 18th place among the 224 national finalists. Alex's first MATHCOUNTS coach, who launched him on his way back when he was in sixth grade, was another former national mathlete from the Albany Area, Dave Bieber. (Dave, in turn, had been coached by yet another former national mathlete from the Albany Area, founding AAMC member Alison Miller, when he was in sixth grade!)
For the first time anyone can recall, all four members of the team, which also included two-time veteran Peter Mizes from the Rochester area and Calvin Lee, the Manhattan MATHCOUNTS chapter champion, all earned top 56 recognition. Most impressively of all, they were able to come in very strong on the collaborative team round, allowing their team to rank higher than the traditional powerhouse states of California and Texas.
Because of the very large distances separating the mathletes and the fact that there is no travel budget to enable the team to practice together as a team prior to nationals, the students seized the initiative, took ownership of their learning, and organized their own on-line collaborative practices prior to nationals, without requiring adult assistance. Essentially, they coached themselves. The team clearly made New York State proud in many ways--their friendly collaborative work together carried on a fine tradition to new heights and surely will inspire future mathletes from our state to new heights, as they stand on the shoulders of these mathematically collaborative and resourceful giants.
If you would like to see the problems they tackled, you can find them posted on the Art of Problem Solving discussion forum here. One of my favorite problems from this year's national contest is here--it is a beautiful illustration of how probability problems can often be solved by viewing them as geometry problems.