Held at Kenyon College in February, the annual competition allows students the opportunity to “face off” with more than 50 students from institutions across Ohio, including Ohio Wesleyan University, Denison University, Kenyon College and Antioch College. The location of the competition rotates among the five schools, and students collaborate in three-person teams to try to solve 10 math problems in two hours.
“We try to keep it as low-key as possible and give students a chance to meet and socialize with like-minded students from other schools,” said Adam Parker, Wittenberg assistant professor of mathematics. Parker, Alan Stickney, professor of mathematics, and Bill Higgins, associate professor of mathematics, accompanied the students to the 2006 event.
Three teams of students from Wittenberg competed, most of whom were juniors and seniors. Alyssa Armstrong, class of 2009 of West Chester, Ohio, was among two freshmen to participate in the event.
“It was really neat to see a college math competition since I participated in many high school contests,” said Armstrong, a math major and education minor. “The questions were difficult, but they made you think in different ways.”
Other Wittenberg participants included Lisa Bendure of Springfield, Ohio; Lindsay Jacobs of Springfield, Ohio; Ellen Peterson of Ada, Ohio; and Karl Schmitt of Baltimore, Md., all class of 2006; Alex Brown of Marietta, Ohio; Steve Dennett of Rochester, N.Y.; and Emily List of Westerville, Ohio, all class of 2007; and Daniel Marous of Bexley, Ohio, class of 2009.
Last December, Wittenberg students also participated in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition, the largest and most prestigious mathematics competition in the United States. This national exam is designed to test technical competence, problem-solving ability and originality. Each year, more than 2,000 students spend six hours attempting to solve 12 questions. The institutions with the five winning teams are awarded a monetary prize for their mathematics department, with the top team receiving $25,000. The 20 highest scoring individuals are also awarded monetary prizes.
Wittenberg math students will continue to participate in competitions throughout the academic year. This weekend, they will travel to Akron, Ohio, for the spring meeting of the Ohio Section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).
“Competing in these contests gives our students a chance to meet other math majors from Ohio schools,” Parker said. “They get the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in class to new and unfamiliar questions. We hope that they can be creative and develop new techniques to solve problems they haven’t seen before.”
- Sarah Gearhart '06
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