Last Updated: 05/28/2013*
Eighth-grader Alec Sun of Lexington, Mass., won the 2013 Raytheon MATHCOUNTS® National Competition in Washington, D. C. after an intense final round of competition before a live and webcast audience.
The state team from Massachusetts also captured the title of National Team Champion for the second year in a row.
The question that Sun answered to clinch the 2013 competition:
Question: What is the greatest integer that must be a factor of the sum of any four consecutive positive odd integers?
Sun competed against 223 other middle school students at the competition, which brings together the best and brightest middle school mathematicians from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and schools from the Departments of Defense and State.
The multi-day competition at the Marriott Woodman Park hotel in Washington, D.C., included a written exam and ended with the nail-biting Countdown Round, where the top 12 competitors went head-to-head answering questions.
Ashwin Sah of Portland, Ore. garnered the second-place individual title with Guanpeng (Andy) Xu from South Carolina and Franklyn Wang from Virginia reaching the semifinals.
In the team competition, Massachusetts captured the title of National Team Champion for the second year in a row. Team members include James Lin, McCall Middle School; Matthew Lipman, Meadowbrook School; Michael Ren, The Pike School; Alec Sun, Jonas Clarke Middle School; and coach Joshua Frost, from Jonas Clarke Middle School. The Washington state team took second place, and the Florida team placed third.
“I want to commend the 2013 Raytheon MATHCOUNTS National Competition participants on their tremendous achievements,” said William H. Swanson, Raytheon Chairman and CEO and 2013 MATHCOUNTS honorary chairman. “Their command of math at such a young age is truly impressive. After watching them enthusiastically compete at such a high level, I see great potential for these Mathletes to be among our next generation of American innovators in fields like science, technology, engineering and math.”
“I congratulate all 224 of these exceptional students who have demonstrated talent, enthusiasm and dedication throughout the entire MATHCOUNTS competition,” said Lou DiGioia, executive director of MATHCOUNTS. “Each and every Mathlete here has done an incredible job, and they should all be extremely proud of their accomplishments.”
As National Champion, Sun won the $8,000 Donald Weinert College Scholarship and a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. Sah won a $6,000 scholarship as Second Place in the Individual competition. Semi-finalists Wang and Xu each won a $4,000 scholarship. Sun also won an $8,000 scholarship as the Written Round Winner, and Sah also won a $6,000 scholarship as Written Round Runner-up.
"I was really surprised because I’m not that good at the Countdown Round,” said Sun reacting after winning the National Title. “I double checked my work a lot of times. I feel really excited.”
Additionally, each member of the winning team from Massachusetts will receive a $2,000 scholarship and a trip to space camp.
This is the second year the team from Massachusetts has taken home the National Championship title. After the competition Coach Josh Frost gave away the secret to his team’s success.
“Hard work. We’ve practiced 2-3 times a week and every Friday since Christmas,” said Frost. “We did four practice competition exams since arriving in D.C. on Wednesday. I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”
325 mathematicians + Pascal’s Triangle = The shape of things to come
After hours of intense competition, the participants also had a chance to relax, have some fun and set a record.
Following the conclusion of the Countdown Round, all of the competitors, along with their coaches and advisors, worked together to set a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® title: Fastest Time to Construct the First 25 Rows of Pascal's Triangle (Human Formation).
Pascal’s Triangle is a famous triangular formation of numbers described in 1653 by French mathematician Blaise Pascal. Each number inside the triangle is the sum of the two numbers above it. Pascal’s Triangle is known for its collection of patterns that occur frequently in mathematics. MATHCOUNTS explains how Pascal’s Triangle is used in everyday algebra and probability.
Organizers gave the students envelopes with one of the numbers in the triangle. The youths then dashed to assemble in the right positions.
According to Joy Smith, an eighth-grader from Wyoming, there was never any doubt that they would set the record.
“I think that it is really cool that even though we’re from cities that no one has ever heard of, we get to come to D.C., which is awesome, and we get to set a record that we never thought about doing before,” said Smith.
“The application of Pascal’s Triangle – a simple collection of patterns used in every day algebra and probability – is just one example of how math is all around us,” said Pam Erickson, vice president of Community Relations at Raytheon Company.
Although there can only be one individual and one team champion crowned, each of the 224 competitors had an opportunity to show the world their passion for math, helping to inspire their peers to pursue STEM education.
“It’s just really fun, you can just do basically anything with math, it’s kind of like the gateway to the world,” said Matthew Hambacher, an eighth-grader from Hyde Park Middle School, Nevada. “I would consider math to be the universal language for everything.”
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