2 seniors place second in math

Benjamin Barad ’09 and Rebecca Jacobs ’09 both won second place in an American Math Society competition that included students within the Los Angeles and Orange county region.

The American Mathematical Society, AMS, organized two competitions, which were called Who Wants To Be A Mathematician and the Southern California Math Olympiad.

Both of these competitions together had a combined 42 student participants from various high schools.

In order to qualify a student must score highly on an advanced quiz given by their math teacher. Both Barad and Jacobs had the highest scores in their Directed Studies class. Jacobs scored a perfect score on the quiz and was one of only 10 students in the competition to do so.

These select students that scored perfectly on the qualifying quiz were entered in the Millionaire competition while the 32 other qualifiers were split into eight teams of four and submitted in the Olympiad contest.

“We had no idea what types of problems could be asked,” Jacobs said. “We prepared by studying basic formulas that could be applied to various math problems.”

Both competitions took place on Dec. 6 at California State University at Fullerton, with the Olympiad competition first. Split into four teams of eight, each team in Jacobs’ competition was given an hour to answer questions out of a booklet and the first team to answer a question would be awarded points.

“It was interesting and challenging, but at the same time exciting,” Barad said. “My team was really fun and we worked well together.”

Barad’s team was tied for first place at the end of the hour, but lost the tiebreaker question and as a result placed second.

Jacobs took the stage along with nine other participants next for the Millionaire competition. The contestants were split into two groups of five, one group per round. A multiple choice question would showed up on an electronic big screen and the group was given a set amount of time to choose the correct answer individually.

Using her fellow classmate Barad as her one lifeline, Jacobs won the first round and advanced to the final round automatically.

“It was kind of a mix of jeopardy and Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” she said. “The atmosphere was intense, but the pace never got hurried until the final round.”

After the two rounds were complete, the two winners went head to head to determine a winner.

“It was great to see Rebecca up there in the finals, every part of the competition was fun and worth the hard work,” Barad said.

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