Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Edward Wan of Washington is the National "Math Bee" Champion for 2016

Math Counts.

In this STEM-focused era when schools, companies, and legislators are falling all over themselves to promote the study of science, technology, engineering, and math, it's truly surprising that more people are not aware of the national Math Bee known as MATHCOUNTS. The MATHCOUNTS competition is sponsored by the Raytheon Corporation and organized by a foundation of people including the National Society of Professional Engineers and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Like the national spelling bee, MATHCOUNTS is open to middle school students who compete in regional and state tournaments for the chance to compete at the national level.

The competitors known as "mathletes" compete in individual and team written rounds with the goal of "making the stage" for the lightening fast Countdown Round, where the top mathletes answer complex math questions on algebra, geometry, probability, and statistics, and they must solve them in forty-five seconds or less. The mad math skills of these kids is truly extraordinary, and the head-to-head matches are nothing short of breathtaking in their intensity.

Check out these highlights from the Countdown Round:

This year's competition was held at the Renassiance Hotel in Washington DC, and the last two mathletes standing were eighth grader Edward Wan of Washington and Luke Robitaille of Texas. The Texas team was truly dominant this year, winning the team competition and sending all four of its mathletes to the 12-person countdown - a feat which has never happened. Texas also feature two sixth graders in countdown, which has also never happened. The countdown round was featured on ESPN3 on Monday, May 9 during the mid-day. It's nice for ESPN to offer the coverage - but it's a bit of a shame that ESPN offers three hours of prime-time air to the national spelling bee. While we shouldn't take anything away from the achievements of the nation's top spellers, there is really no comparison to the incredible math skills of the nation's top mathletes. Perhaps someday, the Department of Education and ESPN and Raytheon will give proper due to the kids of MATHCOUNTS.

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