27th Annual Math Contest Goes Cubicle

William Fu, Ryan Herron, Julia Liu and Alice Zhai of L Canada High were the 2013 School Winner for Grades 9-10

William Fu, Ryan Herron, Julia Liu and Alice Zhai of L Canada High were the 2013 School Winner for Grades 9-10

About a hundred students and teachers from 10 Southern California high schools come to Westmont for a battle of math brains. The 27th annual High School Mathematics Contest is Saturday, Feb. 8, from 1-5 p.m. in Winter Hall.

Students from Bishop Diego, Cate, Crescenta Valley, Dos Pueblos, Dunn School, Family Schools, Oaks Christian, San Marcos, Santa Barbara and Thacher will compete this year. The contest includes a Chalk Talk Derby, written exams and a fast-paced team competition with buzzers modeled after the College Bowl TV show.

The Chalk Talk Final and College Bowl Finals begin at 4 p.m. in Winter Hall’s Darling Foundation Lecture Hall (Room 210). The Awards Banquet will begin at 5:30 p.m. in Founders Room of the Ruth Kerr Memorial Student Center. Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider will speak at the banquet and hand out trophies.

This year’s Chalk Talk theme is cubics, because it’s the 27th annual contest and 27 is a perfect cube. “We have created extremely cool T-shirts depicting the Menger sponge,” says Russell Howell, Kathleen Smith professor of mathematics. “The first stage in its construction has volume 27, and the fractal dimension of the sponge itself is 2.7.”

Howell, who has taught mathematics at Westmont for 36 years, is a contributor and co-editor of a book, “Mathematics Through the Eyes of Faith,” which examines the connections between math and faith. He also co-authored a popular textbook, “Complex Analysis for Mathematics and Engineering,” which is in its sixth edition.

“I’m most excited about seeing high-quality students interacting in a friendly but competitive setting,” he says.