Western Connecticut State University will host students from 13 high schools in Connecticut and New York participating in the American Mathematical Society’s “Who Wants to Be a Mathematician” Fair and Contest to be held at WCSU on Thursday, May 31, on the university’s Midtown campus in Danbury.
The WCSU Department of Mathematics is coordinating the local AMS-sponsored event, which marks the second “Who Wants to Be a Mathematician” fair at WCSU. Each of the 13 high schools will be represented by one student who has qualified as a contestant in the competition testing mathematical knowledge and skills. The 13 contestants have been selected based on scores in a qualifying exam administered by high school mathematics teachers with questions on algebra, trigonometry, probability and math history.
The AMS will award the winning contestant a guaranteed cash prize of $1,000, with the chance to earn an additional $2,000 in the bonus round. The second-place contestant will receive a $500 prize.
Connecticut participants in the event will include Danbury High School and Immaculate High School, of Danbury; Bethel High School; Brookfield High School; Greenwich High School; Kennedy High School, of Waterbury; Naugatuck High School; New Fairfield High School; New Milford High School; Newtown High School; Nonnewaug High School, of Woodbury; and Shepaug Valley School, of Washington. Pawling High School, of Dutchess County, New York, also will participate.
More than 400 students, teachers and family members from the participating high schools are expected to attend the event to support their contestants. The program also will feature a Math Fair that will include campus tours, presentations about the Kathwari Honors Program and scholarship opportunities at WCSU, and talks and displays showcasing research by WCSU mathematics students and alumni.
“Who Wants to Be a Mathematician,” created in 2001, is a game in which high school students compete for cash and prizes by answering multiple-choice mathematics questions. Mike Breen, AMS public awareness officer and co-founder of the event as well as a onetime contestant on “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune,” said that the competition “values and encourages mathematical talent. While sports are usually celebrated, it is wonderful that students interested in mathematics can also be encouraged.”
WCSU Department of Mathematics Chair Dr. Stavros Christofi remarked that the event provides an entertaining and exciting showcase for math education.
“You really have to experience this contest to realize how fascinating it is!” Christofi said. “Mike Breen does an excellent job hosting it and the energy the student attendees from the high schools bring to the game is amazing. Imagine being at an excellent football game — only it’s a math competition!”
The AMS, a primary sponsor of the event, seeks to advance research and connect the diverse global mathematical community through publications, meetings, conferences, MathSciNet, professional services, and advocacy and awareness programs. Other event sponsors include Newtown Savings Bank, the Art of Problem Solving, Texas Instruments, Maplesoft, John Wiley and Sons, the WCSU Department of Mathematics and the WCSU Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society chapter. Christofi expressed special thanks to the WCSU Math Planning Committee and to participating speakers, students, teachers and staff at the 13 high schools represented at the event and at WCSU.