Math Students Rise to the Challenge

When math is your favorite subject, competing in The Hardest Math Problem Contest is a piece of cake. Just ask sixth grader Ryan Hu.

“I just wanted to be challenged because I like these kinds of challenges and it wasn’t that difficult,” he said.

Hu, along with Kate Anderson ’27, Elaina Barreto ’27 and Logan Dundas ’26 advanced to the second and final round of the national math competition, presented by Scholastic, The Actuarial Foundation and the New York Life Foundation. The competition challenges students in grades 6-8 to solve multi-step math problems with real-world situations.

The first problem incorporated greenhouse gasses and hybrid vehicles. Sixth graders needed to know ratios and variables, seventh graders needed to be proficient in unit rates and eighth graders had to be skilled in percentages and rates. 

The four students successfully completed the first challenge given in November, and completed the second challenge last month. Dundas admitted the contest name made him think twice. “It did sound intimidating and when I looked at it, it was a difficult math problem as far as math problems go, but it wasn’t the hardest thing I’d ever done,” he said.

Middle school math coordinator Donna Komosinski and her colleagues were proud of the students for their enthusiasm and diligence.

“It is a great accomplishment,” Komosinski said. “The students who participated took this on in addition to their class assignments and had to work through it independently.” 

Komosinski noted  that the second challenge was an even more difficult problem. “Students were required not only to submit the correct answer but also to draft a compelling written explanation of their reasoning.”

Challenge 2 winners will be announced in May, with cash for college and other prizes up for grabs. “It is a great way to stretch the kids who enjoy a challenge in math,” Komosinski added.