Math Madness infects Inter-Ac, Fords ahead early

Cole Stecker ’20 working on some calculations – photo by Sebastian Bilash ’20

It is Friday morning: 7:45 a.m. A group of students is gathered in a classroom. They gaze at computer screens intently, facing their challenge for this round.

     This is Math Madness, an online team-based math competition. Elementary, middle school, and high school teams compete in various leagues across the country, following a March Madness-style bracket tournament. The math version takes place in the fall.

     Based on a concept created by Aretelabs and supported by the American Mathematics Competitions (AMC), Math Madness is now in its seventh season with more than 10,000 students across 600 schools vying for the top numbers. 

     Upper school math teacher Mr. Nathan Bridge has championed the cause for this unique competition. Last year Mr. Bridge reached out to Aretelabs and convinced them to design a platform for the Inter-Ac and other local schools to compete in their own league. The league launched this year, and Mr. Bridge hopes new students will join.

     Math Club veterans have participated in competitions like these for years. This unique league brings a new challenge.

     Fourth Former Shibo Zhou enjoys the competitive challenge of the league.

     “It challenges you to practice more after school on your own,” Zhou said. “That’s what I really love about it. You want to be better so you practice more. You have a winner in the local league, that advances to the state level, and then you eventually have a national championship.”

     Fifth Former Gary Gao first started participating in math competitions in fifth grade. Gao explained that most people do not study specifically for this competition, but rather rely on prior knowledge.

     “I personally study competitional math outside of school, but I don’t prepare specifically for this competition,” Gao said. “I know a lot of people don’t [study] as well. I think it’s more intuitive or reactive, and based on the knowledge people have from previous classes like Algebra II and Geometry.”

     The Fords have won both of their matches convincingly up to this point.

     Fifth Former Nathan Tai and other math club veterans are confident about their chances.

I know it’s still early in the season, but we’ve just crushed everyone so far.”

Nathan Tai ’21

     “I think we are really good,” Tai said. “Seriously, I know it’s still early in the season, but we’ve just crushed everyone so far.”

     “We have a strong team this year,” Gao said. “We have got way more new people coming to math club in the mornings, which is great.”

     On the day of the competition, students are tasked with challenging math problems that they attempt to complete in a given amount of time.

     “We get together every Friday morning in Mr. Bridge’s room,” Tai said. “We log in to the website, and there are problems which we try to solve within 30 minutes. Then, the top-five scores are added up.”

     “Usually there are eight problems posted,” Zhou said. “All of us try to solve them within 30 minutes. Few of us get seven or eight right—I think the average is four or five.”

Author: Mitav Nayak '22

Mitav Nayak has contributed to The Index since 2018. He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief. Mitav won the fall 2019 Pennsylvania School Press Association (PSPA) Philadelphia-area Student Journalism Competition for Newspaper Sports Story Writing and was to compete for the state title in the spring of 2020 (canceled due to COVID).