Six Buchholz girls competing for math prize at MIT

Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 5:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 5:12 p.m.

Six Buchholz High School students — all girls — are heading to New England this weekend to compete for the largest monetary math prize for girls in the world.

The Advantage Testing Foundation’s Math Prize for Girls contest is Saturday at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.

“For kids who like math and science, MIT is definitely the dream school,” which is an extra perk of the competition, said Buchholz math teacher and competition team coach Will Frazer.

This is the third year Buchholz has sent students to the competition, although six is the most the school has ever sent, Frazer said.

To qualify, female students must achieve a certain score on the grade-level-appropriate American Math Competitions exams.

Fewer than 300 girls are invited to compete for the Math Prize each year, Frazer said.

The top 10 winners receive cash prizes, and the overall winner gets $25,000.

The goal of the competition, according to its website, is to “encourage young women with exceptional potential to become the mathematical and scientific leaders of tomorrow.”

Buchholz takes pride in getting female students involved in science, technology, engineering and math fields, Frazer said.

This year’s competitors from Buchholz are seniors Andreea Martin, Minjia Zhong and Vivian Zhu, juniors Lisa Lu and Reva Ranka, and sophomore Ellen Li.

Zhong, 17, has been on the math competition team for a few years already. She said she feels like she has improved a lot, and although she’s nervous, she’s excited for the chance to travel.

“I kind of started off as the underdog, I guess,” she said. “I’m not really sure how it’s going to go, but I think it’s a really great chance for me to explore new options.”

During the contest, students have 2 hours to complete 20 problems.

“I am a bit nervous because it’s the top girls in the country, but I know I’ll probably have a lot of fun,” said Li, 14.

Li said she has loved math ever since she first learned what it was in elementary school. She was on the math team at Lincoln Middle School and joined the team at Buchholz last year, although this will be her first time to compete for the Math Prize.

At 14, she’s also the youngest girl on the Buchholz team.

“I don’t really feel weird about it,” she said. “I feel like the math team is a family.”

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