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2008 High School Math Contest

Contestants in the 2008 OSU High School Math ContestThe Mathematics Department held its annual High School Math Contest on October 8, 2008. The contest was a great success, with more than 200 students from Oklahoma and surrounding states taking part. Impressively, the first place winner, Irving Dai of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics in Oklahoma City, made a perfect score on the exam. Peter Luo and Amy Tai, also of OSSM, were tied in second place, and Yichen Wu of Norman High School took third place. There were many other excellent performances. The full list of individual and team honors can be found here. Top-scoring seniors are offered scholarships, ranging from $500 to $1,500, if they enroll at OSU.

Contestants await the start of the 2008 OSU High School Math Contest





Attracting talented students to the study of mathematics and encouraging them to continue on the path to advanced mathematical training is an essential responsibility of mathematics departments. The excitement of participating in mathematics contests and the satisfaction that comes with solving difficult and unexpected problems is a great way to experience some of the intellectual rewards that the study of mathematics offers. Quite a few prominent mathematicians first came to notice as the winners of mathematics contests.

Designing successful math contest problems is an art, requiring not only mathematical knowledge, but also a dose of practical psychology, wide experience in problem-solving, and some added panache. This year's contest was developed by a team consisting of OSU Assistant Professors Anantharam Raghuram and Yanqui Wang and Professor David Ullrich. Mathematics Department senior staff member Shelly Downing handled the organization and logistics of the contest. The two-part structure of the test, with multiple-choice questions in the first part, and proof and exploration problems in the second part, is designed to make the contest an encouraging experience for as many contestants as possible. If you would like to try the problems for yourself, you may find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. In case you get stuck, here are the solutions to Part 1 and Part 2.

Former contest organizer OSU Professor Lisa Mantini, along with A.P. Hillman and M.E. Newton, has written a book called Why Not Try Solving Problems? that collects problems from OSU High School Math Contests in years past and augments them with commentary on problem-solving strategies and the mathematics behind the problems. The manuscript is currently being revised and is expected to reach final form this summer. It should prove to be a great resource for students seeking to develop their math contest skills and for coaches of math contest teams as well.

The Mathematics Department is very grateful to OSU alumni Stuart and Jennie Reeves for an endowment that helps to fund the High School Math Contest. Funds are also provided by OSU.


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