Middle School Mathletes Are First Rate

What do you get when you add one math competition and 10 determined middle school students?
Incalculably impressive results. 

This fall, middle school students were invited to participate in The Hardest Math Problem Student Contest. The competition, presented by The Actuarial Foundation, the Institute of Competition Sciences and the New York Life Foundation, challenges students in grades 6 through 8 to solve multistep, grade-specific math problems with real-world situations and engaging characters.

10 Masters students signed up and took part in Challenge 1. 

“They showed off their problem-solving skills by independently working through problems that have real-world applications,” explained Donna Komosinski, middle school math curriculum coordinator and teacher. “They submitted their answers to Challenge 1 in the hope of qualifying for Challenge 2, which ups the process and the skill.”

And the results are in: Five students — Sylvie Bell ’29, Nicholas Bugaj ’30, Eli Goldfine ’30, Angus McCallum ’29 and Alexander Xia ’29 — were invited to take on Challenge 2. 

Sylvie Bell loves math. “It is definitely my passion,” she said. “I take three math classes a week, and I’ve liked math since I was 2 years old. It’s just so great.” 

And how’s she feeling about Challenge 2? In short: Bring it on. 

“I’m excited for the next problem,” Bell shared. “I’m hoping that it’s even harder because the more challenging it is, the more fun it is.” 

Alexander Xia has his eye on the prize: a chance to win a laptop and $3,000 toward a 529 college savings plan. “I’m happy to have made it this far,” he said. 

Komosinski is thrilled that so many students expressed interest in the contest. “It presents a challenge for our students who want to take a look into different mathematics and higher-level thinking,” she said. “They have to think outside the box and explain themselves mathematically which is a really important skill for our students. It’s one thing to get to one’s solution — but how you got there and where your thinking was, to be able to clearly state that, and to show someone else through models and language — is a more difficult task.”

The five students will be crunching numbers on Challenge 2 until they submit in early March. They’ll find out the results two months later, in May.

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