Math Contest Rewards Originality

Katie Erickson, Staff Writer

The Bay Area Math Olympiad (BAMO), an academic contest based on mathematics, was held on February 25. Each student had 4 hours to complete 5 geometry centered test questions, starting during 5th period.

“Whoever is interested in problem solving can participate. The math Olympiad has proof-type questions so if you like proving things in math and you are interested in solving those challenging problems, then you can participate,” said math teacher Nita Madra.

“It was pretty hard and it takes a long time. On the instructions it says that there are 5 questions but barely anyone will answer all 5. If you answer 1 right, it is a really big achievement. This makes people scared because they think they probably won’t get any right,” said junior Cary Huang.

Despite finding the test difficult,  junior Katie Coates encourages others to take the test because it exposes a different side of math. “It was important to test my math skills and try something really challenging. It was a good break from what we usually do in math, like memorizing formulas, and solve different problems that required more thinking,” said Coates.

The award ceremony was on March 9 at the Mathematical Science Institute in Berkeley.  Prizes were handed out to students in the form of certificates, t-shirts, books, and trophies. In addition to the awards, a  mathematician  addressed the students. This year, the speaker was Sam Vandervelde, a faculty member at St. Lawrence University and the future Dean at Mathematical Sciences at Proof School opening in 2015.

According to Madra, there were awards for best, most practical proof, and the most unique proof that demonstrated thinking outside of the box.

One of the awards the Campolindo team has won in the past was for maximum participation. Two years ago, Campolindo won the Team Award, and received a $150 gift certificate to Chevy’s.

Recent individual winners from Campolindo include graduates Kevin Shweh, Matthew Lau, and William Wheeler.

A variety of schools participated in the test, including those from Silicon Valley. Campolindo has participated since the 2005-06 school year.

Huang thought the experience was rewarding and would take the test again. “It gives you experience into higher mathematics and a different field of mathematics. It is more like math that you have to think up on the spot instead of memorizing equations like other math classes,” he said.

According to Madra, the test is  beneficial because it is different from what is taught in class and uses creative thinking.  “It’s proof and problem solving and it is a very different way of thinking than what we usually do. It is not about getting all of the answers, it is about solving something in a unique way. It is a very different way of thinking,” said Madra.

A test was also provided for teachers on March 2, but, according to Madra, none of the Campolindo teachers participated this year.