10 High Schools to Compete at Westmont Mathematics Contest

Representing the best mathematical minds of their schools, approximately 100 students will compete Feb. 7 at Westmont’s 18th annual High School Mathematics Contest.

The keynote speaker for the awards banquet is Paul Zorn, a professor at St. Olaf College and the author of a popular textbook on calculus.

The contest is known in the math community as challenging while lively and fun. Teams from public and private schools from Lompoc to Los Angeles will attend, including Bishop Diego, Carpinteria, Cate, Dos Pueblos, Laguna Blanca, San Marcos, Thacher and Santa Barbara high schools. This year two new schools will be attending: California Oaks and Santa Barbara Family Schools (an organized system of home schools in the Santa Barbara area). In the past it has been attended by schools as far away as Arizona.

The competition uses events to test the individual and team knowledge of mathematics. Calculators may not be used. The events will be done with only the contestants’ brain power.

Events include Chalk-Talk Derby, Leap-Frog, College Bowl and a written exam. Winners are awarded with trophies and plaques. An awards banquet will follow the competition.

Since the communication of mathematical ideas is an important part of mathematics, the event Chalk Talk was included in the contest to ensure that students develop their public-speaking skills. Each student prepares an assigned talk (e.g., infinite series). The topic is announced well in advance of the contest and the talk lasts 10 minutes. It is up to the student to create a talk that is well-organized, sufficiently in-depth and focused.

Leap Frog is a team cooperation game where speed and accuracy counts. When the game starts, the first member of each team must write a solution to a four-part math problem in an envelope and that passes, or “leap-frogs,” to the next team member to build upon the solution until it is solved.

During the College Bowl event a question is posed and the first person to correctly answer the question in 20 seconds will be given one and one-half minutes with their team to work on a follow-up question.

For more information, contact contest coordinator Russell Howell, Westmont professor of mathematics and computer science, at (805) 565-6178 or e-mail howell@westmont.edu.

For photos and an event schedule on the Web, visit http://www.westmont.edu/departments/mcs/ mathcontest/index.html